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Reading Recovery...

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by kenadams777, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. thumbie - I don't know whether I have misunderstood what you are endeavouring to say - but I don't 'trust children's ability to learn to read', I know.
    I can teach children to read and am confident about this.
    People like myself and Maggie have taken children that many other teachers have failed to teach children to read.
    How do we know that it is the teachers' failing (or you could say their methods)? Because over and again we take children who have reached staggering ages (so sometimes still older 'children' and sometimes adults) and we have taught them to read.
    Children's brains are designed to learn. If they do not learn, we have not taught them well enough.
    If their learning to read becomes muddled and lacking in confidence, then it is we who have muddled them.
    Of course, teachers would never want to believe that all their many efforts (methods plus many hours of teaching) are failing the children.
    And that is the biggest problem of all.
    What skews the picture, is that there are equally many children who succeed in learning to read no matter what - and that teachers who have had many classes of children with many 'successes' attribute this success to the methods they have used.
    It is hard for them to consider that the very same 'methods' have failed other children in their class.
    When we SP look at the methods of Reading Recovery (which is what this thread was originally about), we are horrified by their convoluted methods and contortions of how to teach reading and writing - which do not resemble what children need and the skills demonstrated by the most efficient readers and spellers/writers.
    More and more teachers and advisors are contacting me describing how they 'want' these slower-to-learn children to receive more intensive SP (e.g. more time or more one to one or small groups), but that these children are being whisked away to be given Reading Recovery.
    As more teachers do more SP, more teachers can see the simplicity and the success of it.
    I actually feel very sorry indeed for those teachers who are being swept up in the Reading Recovery methodology and machinery. And I feel desperately sorry, quite distraught for the children themselves.
    We have a chance to simplify and perfect our teaching of basic skills in literacy and the numbers of teachers who realise this are growing.
    This is not a fad of philosophy. It is simply a simple and much more direct method based on the code of our writing/reading system and how to use that code.

  2. I think we've sort of got back to the beginning of the argument, Debbie. As you said, we probably have to agree to differ. It's been interesting and given food for thought. I don't think strict and exclusive SP is the way to go but certainly agree that first steps in reading have to be made through SP. Your good results are testament to that. But using analogy and rime will speed up reading acquisition for many children, as shown by good readers.
    I am concerned about children accessing the meaning of what they are reading and appreciating and enjoying texts, so that they can (and want to) read to learn. Being a good decoder does not guarantee reading skill. More flexible approaches to text, that is initally accessed through decoding, start to take reading to the next step. I am sure good teachers are well aware of this, but fear that over-concentration on SP can take the teacher's focus off other important elements of reading. The idea that SP is the only method needed to teach reading risks other important reading skills being neglected as not being SP.
    I am aware that many will see this as a separate issue and argue that SP does not stand in the way of reading comprehension. I have seen occasions where it does, but teaching and guiding the reader overcomes this. What bothers me more is the perception that SP will do the whole job and that other approaches are never needed and are, in fact, bad.
  3. Unfortunately, to look at what 'good readers' apparently do and say 'That is what we must teach beginner readers to do' is what got us into the decline in literacy rates in the first place.
    Whole Language/Look and Say was based on the premis that skilled readers apparently just looked at words and were able to read them without needing to decode them. Ergo, teaching 'phonics' was unnecessary. This logically suspect theory was fleshed out and promulgated by Frank Smith in the 1970s and his acolytes, Ken & Yetta Goodman. Smith seems to have been a highly charismatic and persuasive character and his beliefs acquired the status of 'truth'; a status which is still dominant today, though slightly modified by a dim perception that 'phonics' might have a part to play somewhere.
    Unfortunately, Smith's key theory was disproved, almost as soon as it was articulated, by Stanovich & West, two young cognitive scientists who set out to demonstrate the scientific basis for Smith's theory (they were very enthused by his 'insights' into reading). To their amazement, they discovered that everything that Smith said was characteristic of a good reader turned out to be characteristic of the poorest readers and the key skill which characterised skilled readers was their ability to decode, the very skill which Smith said was completely unnecessary. Stanovich and West published their findings in the mid 1970s (35 years ago) and all scientific research into the processes of reading since then have confirmed their findings. (See 'Progress in Understanding Reading': Stanovich 2001)
    In the same period, Smith's theories have been enthusiastically embraced and embroidered by the 'educational establishment' while the findings of science have been resolutely ignored by all but a few.
    What depresses me about your ideas, thumbie, (particularly your negative ideas about decoding) is that they echo many of the disparaging myths which have grown up around 'phonics'; myths which are still grimly promoted by the resistors of the 'Simple View of Reading'. And they are myths which have been repeated so often as to acquire the status of 'Ruling Theory'. That is, a theory which has been repeated so often (without anyone bothering to go back to original material or research) that it is regarderd as TRUTH.
    I really don't care what you do to promote 'comprehension' (though I would blench if you were like an RR teacher and badgering the poor little things to 'make meaning' before they can even read the flipping words) but to think that you are deliberately teachiong children strategies which I am daily trying to eradicate in my struggling readers, when such strategies aren't necessary if a child has automatised decoding and blending, really frustrates me...
  4. This isn't what I am saying.
    Listen to, watch and interact with the child to find the best way.
  5. This is why people need to be very specific when they speak in broad terms about teaching reading.
    For example, when they refer to 'reading strategies', they need to elaborate as to exactly 'what' these strategies mean to them.
    It seems to me that you are thinking of synthetic phonics as an impoverished diet for youngsters when this is not the case. It is simply that the teaching should be direct and focused and not diluted with multi-cueing reading strategies - those that Rose rejected and which we know to amount to guessing from many cues and prompts - including the teacher's dialogue and 'praise and prompt' etc.
    Several years ago when I realised that people were negative about synthetic phonics and were referring to it as if it was an impoverished and restrictive experience, I designed a 'two stage' teaching model to illustrate the focus SP teaching within a broad language, literacy and literature-rich curriculum and how, once children have been taught to read and write, these skills integrate into that wider curriculum.
    What the teaching involved, however, was not asking children to read and write before they had been taught to read and write - which puts most children on 'failure mode' at the age of four, five and six.
    Much time has traditionally been spent in infant classrooms on stimulating and inspiring children and then asking them to read books they cannot and read and asking them to write blurb that they cannot write. Of course, a handful of children could just about manage.

  6. "Listen to, watch and interact with the child to find the best way."
    thumbie - when I read statements like this, I really do wonder where you're coming from.
    How to teach reading is not a child-led thing.
    We know that in abundance.
    Teachers treat each child as an individual as part of the relationship they have with that child, and each child may have different capacities to learn or different difficulties impeding them.
    And the teacher needs to recognise what to do to address such issues.
    But if the teacher has this 'all open' view of teaching reading and adaptation according to each individual in terms of different approaches to the actual reading instruction (that is, might be SP, might be onset and rime, might be context clues, might be whole word, might just need 'more experience', might need to have a nicer book) or whatever, then we totally disagree.
    Also, the teacher has around 30 children in that class and the rest of the curriculum and the stuff of the school to address.
    I don't get the impression that you actually believe in any amount of SP - or maybe you don't have the same notion of what SP is and how it relates to the wider experience of the child.
    Your expression 'to find the best way' is not the type of expression a SP teacher would use.
    They have found the best way and know it - and they hone their skills year upon year to reach outstanding results for all the children.
  7. Why do you keep saying this Debbie? You are misrepresenting what I have said continually in my posts.
    The big difference between our two positions as that you believe you have found the 'best way' and I don't believe the principle 'one size fits all' is true when dealing with a group of different individuals.
    I respect your viewpoint and certainly getting involved in these threads has made me reflect deeply. I hope others have found it equally thought provoking.
  8. Jim Rose addresses the 'one size doesn't fit all' argument very well. I'll provide a link to his argument in the next posting![​IMG]
  9. "<u>It is widely agreed that reading involves far more than decoding words on the page</u>. Nevertheless, words must be decoded if readers are to make sense of the text. Phonic work is therefore <u>a necessary but not sufficient part </u>of the wider knowledge, skills and understanding which children need to become skilled readers and writers, capable of comprehending and composing text. For<u> beginner readers</u>, learning the core principles of phonic work in discrete daily sessions reduces <u>the risk, attendant with the so-called &lsquo;searchlights' model, of paying too little attention to securing word recognition skills.</u>" Rose report
    Written in response to this perceived situation:
    "Its (QCA's) analysis of the 2005 Key Stage 1
    tests showed that teachers could raise attainment in children&rsquo;s reading and spelling further at Key Stage 1 if, among other things, they <u>taught phonic knowledge and skills more thoroughly than at present.</u> "
    (my underlining)
    The teaching of phonics, already recognised as essential, came under criticism and the report gives the systematic teaching of SP a big push to centre stage. There is some circumspection about it however, ranging from the expression of some doubt over the clarity of some research findings to an emphasis within the report of the importance of sharing books and providing a literacy rich environment in the early years (some, not all, SP supporteres see this as compromising the SP teaching).
    The report implied that teaching of phonics, although a lynchpin of the NLS, had not been done well enough, therefore the emphasis needed to shift to ensure that phonics was given enough attention and that good SP teaching methods were used.
    Elsewhere in the report, it does refer to methods that children start to adopt themselves as they become competent decoders. Rose is always clear that SP, well taught, is essential to early reading, but is also clear that there is more to reading than decoding. His references to 'One size not fitting all' is a defence of the teaching of SP, not a rejection of using other methods as children grow in competence. The context of the report has to be taken into consideration as based on the apparent failure of the NLS searchlights model, which, do not forget, included a phoinc element.
  10. What I'm describing is formative assessment, I don't think there is anything controversial about that. With reading it's something that can be done continuously while hearng a child read. But it's difficult to do with the snatched oportunities that are 'guided reading'.
  11. It is quite ironic that you make reference to the questioning of research on reading when it is a Reading Recovery thread! That takes the biscuit.
  12. I can't make any comments about RR, I don't know enough about it.
    I responded to the thread because it seemed to be lacking in any posts to moderate the very strong pro-SP, only method, message, that was coming across. I felt there was more to be said and more to be heard by others accessing the thread.
  13. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Reading Recovery
    Reading Recovery is one of the best known and most documented examples of early
    intervention in reading (Clay, 1985). It was developed in New Zealand and targeted the
    20% lowest performing children in a class after one year of schooling. The intensive and
    highly specific programme was congruent with the formal and carefully staged New
    Zealand policy of teaching reading. This may explain the programme's more pronounced
    success in New Zealand.

    Reading Recovery aims to help individual children develop, correct and become more
    aware of the reading strategies they are using. Typically, a daily 30 minute tutoring session
    &bull; rereading two or more familiar books
    &bull; rereading yesterday&rsquo;s new book and taking a running record (to determine
    error rate and strategies)
    &bull; letter identification (plastic letters on a magnet board) and/or words and
    word-making and breaking
    &bull; writing a story
    &bull; cut-up story to be arranged
    &bull; new book introduced
    &bull; new book attempted
    Children receive half an hour of instruction daily for 12 to 20 weeks which ends when they
    can cope with classwork without extra support.
    Training teachers to deliver the programme is crucial to success. This usually lasts a year
    and includes guided practice. Some research (Pinnell et al, 1994) found that if training was
    shortened the programme ceased to be effective.

    (and yet most teachers on TES say they had only one or two lectures on how to teach reading)
    Comparing the effectiveness of several
    other kinds of intervention as well, the researchers concluded that one-to-one instruction is
    essential for the lowest achievers but is not enough in itself to explain the success of
    Reading Recovery. Nor are time and materials sufficient ingredients of success. The
    crucial aspect seems to be that longer training ensures that teachers can make
    individualised, spontaneous, effective decisions. Feedback and prompting were notably
    better in longer-trained teachers. The key ingredients of training are:
    &bull; presentation of theory
    &bull; demonstration of skills or models of teaching
    &bull; practice in simulated or classroom settings
    &bull; open-ended feedback, and coaching.
    This mirrors early findings on the effects of phonological awareness on later literacy
    attainment (Layton et al, 1996). Effective, and creative, individualised tutor-reaction is
    likely to be a significant component of any practical teaching strategy, particularly for the
    lowest achievers. Mutual support after training is also important (Pinnell et al, 1994). Peer
    support, group discussion and time to reflect may enhance training significantly.
    Although Reading Recovery has been found to be effective, some researchers raise doubts.

    <u>Clay herself (1985) claimed the programme was effective only when there was change on
    four fronts:
    &bull; behavioural change on the part of teachers
    &bull; child behaviour change achieved by teaching
    &bull; organisational changes in schools
    &bull; social / political changes in financing by controlling authorities.</u>
    This implies that no programme will succeed unless it is embedded in a wider context of
    effective change.
    From evaluative evidence in several countries, there seems no doubt that low-achieving
    readers make significant gains from intensive one-to-one programmes. But criticism of
    Reading Recovery persists. Studies question:
    &bull; whether similar results could be replicated on tests other than the Clay
    Diagnostic Tests
    &bull; the methodology of the statistical analysis&mdash;there is clear potential for bias
    when only those children who completed the programme and successfully
    discontinued were included in the result

    &bull; that children were not assigned to control and experimental groups randomly
    &mdash; particularly problematic when the experimental groups were the lowest
    However, other studies indicate that early gains from Reading Recovery may not be
    One reason for this decline may be the lack of articulation between the Reading
    Recovery and normal classroom reading curriculum. Programmes are effective although not
    for every child as there are other appropriate interventions. Nor does Reading Recovery do
    away with all later needs for specialist support or the development of metalinguistic skills.
  14. Could say where this piece about RR comes from, Msz?
  15. Blast! Spotted it a moment too late. 'Could you say......'
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Sorry I should have linked
  17. Thank you for the link Msz. It's interesting that this study seems to find that RR is an effective intervention (albeit with reservations about the quality of the results data), when right from the onset of this thread it has been dismissed summarily.
    I found this particularly interesting, on page 8 of the study:
    "The evaluators concluded that the more expansive Reading Recovery produced larger gains over a wider range of skills than did Phonological Intervention which showed gains over time in reading accuracy, spelling and phonological skills, but not in reading comprehension. This lack of effect on reading comprehension has been found by other evaluations of programmes which are mainly phonics-based. Sylva and Hurry (1995) point out that 'interventions with a narrow model of reading tend to have a narrower effect'."
    So it would appear that RR does have some validity as an intervention programme after all. I would be very interested to know about the research, mentioned previously, that concludes that the gains made through RR are not sustained.

  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    It also concluded that
    Training teachers to deliver the programme is crucial to success. <u>This usually lasts a year</u>
    and includes guided practice.
    Some research (Pinnell et al, 1994) found that if training was <u>shortened</u> the programme ceased to be effective.

    How many days/weeks/months training did you receive to deliver phonics instruction?

    It also points out that published evaluations are questionable

    But criticism of Reading Recovery persists. Studies question:
    &bull; whether similar results could be replicated on tests other than the Clay
    Diagnostic Tests
    &bull; the methodology of the statistical analysis&mdash;there is clear potential for bias
    when only those children who completed the programme and successfully
    discontinued were included in the result

    Later research from Australia where RR has been widely used questions it's effectiveness
    THE most common remedial reading
    program used in Australian schools is failing the students who most need
    help and some studies suggest the gains produced are lost in the
    following two years or so.

    <u>A review of 20 years' research into Reading Recovery, just
    published in the International Journal of Disability, Development and
    Education, says the program has not delivered all it promised,
    particularly long-term benefits for students and a significant reduction
    in the need for special education services.</u>

    "The success of the
    program appears to be inversely related to the severity of the reading
    problem. A student with a severe problem is unlikely to be a success,"
    it says.

    <u>"In some studies, research has shown that short-term
    gains are often not retained and that these have all but disappeared by
    Year 3, Year 4 or Year 5.</u>
    "Although it has been implemented for
    15-20 years in some education systems, Reading Recovery has not
    demonstrated that it has dramatically reduced literacy failure within
    education systems."

    <u>Results published by the NSW Education Department on the basic
    skills test conducted in years 3 and 5 show that only one in three
    ex-Reading Recovery students reached the state average.</u>
    The review
    conducted by researchers from Macquarie University, including one of
    the nation's leading literacy experts Kevin Wheldall, says the one in
    three students who are helped by the program would probably have caught
    up in their reading skills anyway.

    Reading Recovery is offered to
    the bottom 20 per cent of readers in every Year 1 class, providing them
    with one-on-one tuition to bring them to the level of the average reader
    in their class. It is widely used throughout Australia, particularly in
    NSW and Victorian schools as the main way of helping children
    struggling with reading.
    Professor Wheldall yesterday said the
    argument over Reading Recovery was not whether it was effective but
    whether it was effective enough.
    He said the program should target
    the lowest 20 per cent of readers overall, not the lowest 20 per cent
    in every class, which meant that some students in higher-achieving
    schools received help while those in lower-achieving schools who might
    be poorer readers missed out.
  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter


    "Reading Recovery 20 Years Down the Track: Looking Forward, Looking Back." International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 54.2 (2007): 199-223.

    Queensland says benefits are only temporary. Why don't the Brits bail
    out, asks expert.
    Reading recovery, a core part of the Government's multi-million-pound
    literacy programme, is being dropped in Queensland, Australia, because of
    fears that the gains children make do not last.

    Britain has already given &pound;5 million towards a three-year pilot of Every
    Child a Reader, a scheme that uses Reading Recovery with other less
    intensive programmes.

    But from September, the Government has earmarked &pound;144m for reading plus a
    maths programme, Every Child Counts, to help 30,000 children a year by

    But in the Australian state, funding is being gradually withdrawn because
    officials there say improvements made by pupils were temporary. The $A20m
    (&pound;9m) allocated for the programme will be spent on teacher training

    Literacy expert Kevin Wheldall, director of the Macquarie University
    Special Education Centre, said: "I am truly amazed that the UK Government
    is investing further in Reading Recovery when others elsewhere are bailing

    "The logic of employing Reading Recovery as a solution for pupils who have
    struggled to learn to read following phonics instruction is almost
    wilfully perverse - a triumph of hope over experience. These are precisely
    the children for whom Reading Recovery works least well. It is only
    moderately effective for those low-progress readers whose problems are
    relatively mild - having missed some schooling, for example - and is
    ineffective for those with severe phonological processing problems."

    He and colleagues have assessed research carried out since 1992. Findings
    on the scheme's long-term effects were equivocal. One randomised control
    trial from 1995 concluded that it was only effective for one in three

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