Reading Recovery: first impressions of bad teaching

One of the best aspects of my job is when I get to observe other practitioners in action. I’ve been very lucky to have such generous colleagues. This is the story of the first time I saw someone using Reading Recovery. Yes, it’s a story, an anecdote, and therefore not data, please bear that in mind. If you would like the science on Reading Recovery, you can find it here and here for starters.

When I started my private practice, one of the programs I kept hearing about was Reading Recovery. It seemed like every child who came to me for intervention had had this teaching.

Most of the local schools had a Reading Recovery teacher and every workshop I presented would have a of couple Reading Recovery-trained people there.

I found this slightly odd, as, from what I could glean, it was meant to be a long-term, highly effective intervention for struggling readers. Why did these children, who had accessed this program, then need further intervention?

At this point in my career, I was fairly unaware of the deep divide in theories of reading, known as the Reading Wars. I was on neither side of the fence, since I had no idea the fence existed. I had come straight from a linguistics background and into a working environment that was basically an uninterrupted flow of logical information put to good use.

I had already watched hundreds of children and adults become readers and I really didn’t think that helping people learn to read was a big deal. It was relatively easy to do and my colleagues and I spent our working lives fully expecting our students to read.

The hardest part of my job was getting people to spell well and write fluently. It still is. Spelling and writing are extremely complex processes. They make reading seem easy by comparison.

What caught my attention at this time though, was that Reading Recovery-taught children behaved differently to those who had not had access to the program. I observed three distinct habits in these children that others tended not to have:

  1. When getting ready to read aloud to me, the first thing their eyes would do would be to search around the page for a picture or ask me what the story was about. I use pictureless texts in my clinic because I want the children to decode the letters, not use comprehension strategies to guess words. My training and experience all pointed to this being logical and effective.
  2. When actually reading a text and coming across an unfamiliar word, their eyes would leave the word and start scanning around, again, looking for a picture clue.
  3. When they weren’t doing this wild, panic-stricken scanning, they would sometimes blurt out a word that began with the same letter as the unfamiliar word and carry on reading. For example, if I had a dollar for every time a child said ‘house’ for home, I’d be retired by now.

Not only did these children need explicit instruction in the alphabetic code, in sequencing, in segmenting and in blending sounds in words, but they needed to spend time undoing the awful habits 1-3. Their time in the clinic sometimes tripled because of the re-learning they had to do.

I began to be able to identify a Reading Recovery child at 50 paces. This made me very curious about how their lessons were conducted. To help gain a more informed opinion, I decided to take a look at the program and its underpinnings.

I started finding answers by observing a Reading Recovery session. I was invited to do so by a friend and colleague who worked in one of the local Catholic primary schools. I had the greatest admiration for this friend. She was a caring, intelligent person dedicated to doing the best she could for her students.

Taj was a seven year-old boy who had made no progress in reading and writing in two years of schooling. As such, he qualified for Reading Recovery. Surprisingly, no formal assessment had been given and no diagnosis had been made.

He had been informally assessed using the Observation Survey and several Running Records from Reading Recovery itself, but this was hardly an indicator of his underlying deficits and gave no instruction about how to tailor his intervention. Instead, he was put at a certain ‘level’ and the goal was to move him up to the next ‘level’.

Marie Clay, the author of Reading Recovery explains:

“For Reading Recovery we do not need an elaborate definition of reading difficulties. One simply takes the pupil from where he is to somewhere else.

Oh if only that were true. But such a scattergun, vague approach is folly. We have the tools and knowledge to pinpoint a wide range of cognitive and linguistic deficits that impair reading. Good assessment is a gift to any practitioner. I found it disturbing that none of these had been used to gain a clearer picture of Taj.

Still, he was there and my friend was trying to help him. And besides, I’d watched many sessions with other practitioners and had been to dozens of professional development seminars, and I had never failed to come away with some good ideas about how to improve my practice. There was always some nugget, or innovation or something I could learn from watching others in action.

This time it was different. This time I sat there in shock and surprise. As part of my job as a mentor at Lindamood Bell Learning Processes, I would sit back and evaluate other clinicians, so I was used to novices making rookie mistakes. That is not what this was.

I myself have had observers suggest a slightly different approach for a problem encountered by a student and I have embraced that approach with success; a need for tweaking you might say. That is not what this was.

It was quite evident that my friend had spent many hours practising the elements in the lesson. She was no rookie. She delivered clear and precise instructions with confidence and ease. Her pacing was flawless, her manner was perfect, her equipment was organized and on hand and she really did come across as a seasoned professional. She and Taj had an excellent rapport and she genuinely cared about him and treated him with gentle deference at all times.

But for the first time in my career, I spent my observation time holding myself back from screaming, “What are you doing?! How is that going to help this child? What on Earth are you doing?”

I have not reacted so strongly to any teaching I’ve witnessed, before or since (except other Reading Recovery sessions on YouTube). Let me take you through it as well as I can remember it. The order of proceedings may vary from a standard Reading Recovery session since I’m recalling from over a decade ago, but these are the parts that stood out.

Taj came in and pulled out a book they had been practising. It contained surprisingly complex words but was predictable and repetitive with great big pictures and he read it from memory. I thought that this must have been some kind of warm-up, since nothing useful was being taught or learned. I was looking forward to the “enchantingly interesting” texts coming up that Clay talks about in her guidebook.

The teacher then pulled out a new, equally predictable book, but instead of getting down to reading the words, she asked him to point out the front cover, the back cover, and other things about the book that he plainly knew. Time was ticking away and still no teaching or learning had taken place.

The teacher then did the most incredible thing. She told him what the story was about and what was going to happen in the book. Spoiler alert! I don’t know about you, but if you want me to throw a book on the bonfire, just tell me what happens in the story. It’s the same with films. Tell me the plot and I can guarantee I’ll never watch it. You will have spoiled it for me.

So now there is a child sitting there with a big frown on his face, fidgeting, about to stumble his way through an already boring story that he knows is going to go a certain way and who, ten minutes into the lesson, has learned nothing.

More incredulity followed when the teacher, after some lengthy talking about the book, opened it up to the first page, pointed to the picture and then asked him to find a certain word. My memory won’t deliver the precise word to me, but let’s say she asked him to look for the word tree. Here is the dialogue:

Teacher:    There is a tree in this story. What does tree begin with?

Taj:            …umm, t.

Teacher:    Good, now find the word tree.

Taj:            Points to top.

Teacher:    No.

Taj:            Points to tree.

Teacher:    Good.

Me in my head:   Wait. What? Why aren’t you getting him to read the sounds in the word top and comparing it to the word he’s looking for? Why would you leave that opportunity to teach him to read just sitting there? You’re just getting him to guess based on incomplete information. What on Earth are you doing that for?

And so, after a bit more of this pointless shilly-shally word-searching, and after looking at all the pictures, page by page and talking about each excruciating plot point in the story, this yawning boy is directed to the first page again and told to read the book.

He came to a word he couldn’t predict. For the life of me I cannot remember the word, but he made a clear error of omission, in that the second letter, an embedded consonant like the t in stop, wasn’t pronounced. The teacher let him continue to the end of the sentence and then the crazy questioning began. For the sake of an example, let’s say he read ‘sap’ for slap. The dialogue went as follows (with me climbing the walls trying not to interrupt):

Teacher:    Let’s look at this word here. What does it say?

Taj:            Sap

Teacher:    Would that make sense?

Taj:            I don’t know.

Teacher:    What do you see in the picture?

Taj:            (Mutters something about the picture.)

Teacher:    What is the first letter of the word?

Taj:            S

Teacher:    What would make sense here?

Taj:            (frantically looking at the picture): I don’t know.

Teacher:    What other letters do you see?

Taj:            (naming the letters) l-a-p

Teacher:    Can you see any words inside that word?

Taj:            No.

Teacher:    (pointing to the l) Okay, what is this letter?

Taj:            L

Teacher:    Do you know the sound it makes?

Taj:            /l/

Teacher:    Good. So what does this word say?

Taj:            Sap.

This went on for precious minutes until the teacher told him the word and moved on.

Afterwards I asked the teacher if she was aware that Taj couldn’t perceive that he was saying ‘sap’ for slap. And that saying each sound in sequence and being aware that he had to articulate an /l/ sound straight after the /s/ would have helped him. I asked her if she was planning to do any follow up work on embedded consonants with him. She said she wasn’t planning to, no.

Then it was time to write a sentence. Again, I can’t remember if Taj wrote the sentence or the teacher wrote the sentence, but they did the funniest thing with it afterwards. They cut it into pieces, word by word, and Taj had to reconstruct it. It had to be the most pointless ten minutes of teaching I have ever seen. It was the kind of mindless busy-work a casual-relief teacher dreams up in order to take an unofficial break from teaching.

They also played about with some colourful magnetic letters, sorting them into groups based on their colours (!) and naming the letters, but making no reference to the sounds they represented, again, with no real purpose, sequence or system.

This was truly the worst reading lesson I have ever seen, even to this day. Taj was not being helped in any significant way. His needs were being overlooked. The causes of his difficulties were being ignored. The strategies he was being given were nonsensical and went against everything I’d ever learned about literacy acquisition.

And it wasn’t the teacher’s fault. As I said before, this was a friend and a colleague; a nice person with the best will in the world, highly trained and experienced believing she was helping him. It was bizarre.

I read everything about Reading Recovery that I could get my hands on. I spoke to countless Reading Recovery teachers and watched more excruciating Reading Recovery lessons on YouTube to make sure that this teacher was not an anomaly. Indeed she wasn’t.

What I found most disturbing was that she believed she was being helpful, and with no valid pre or post testing, nothing was contradicting her. Taj may very well have progressed through the program, memorizing and predicting the books, but I shudder to think where he is now.

It saddens me to see this execrable program being so widely embraced. Part of the reason is that Reading Recovery is incredibly systematic. Marie Clay wrote with clarity and authority. Her books, from a prose perspective, are a pleasure to read (provided you don’t know anything about teaching reading).

Its adherents are rigorously trained and the organisations behind it have means to distribute it that are staggeringly efficient. It’s just that it’s wrong.

Moves are afoot to rid schools of it in some districts. It’s very expensive and some in power recognize its ineffectiveness, but remnants of those techniques are everywhere; a story for another day.

Some approaches to reading instruction are more likely to bring success, while others bring an unacceptable rate of failure, no matter how well they are designed and implemented.

We need to begin with a better approach than Reading Recovery and its whole language cousins, and we need to ensure that teachers are trained to implement this better approach with the greatest skill possible. It is not enough for teachers to believe they’re helping children to read.

27 thoughts on “Reading Recovery: first impressions of bad teaching”

  1. Teachers don’t need to be trained in some things or do they? Do they need training for everything? Surely, if a child (or adult ) does not make progress you have to ask the reason why? Isn’t that common sense? Unless this curious and extremely unsuccessful approach is discarded, Australia will continue to go down in the international tests and we willl have many more teenagers unable to get a job because they are not literate enough. How do we get the government to listen?

    1. Governments are too reliant on their own Education Department’s advice. Current academics fail to fully teach our trainee teachers all of the skills required for teaching. Education Departments say they are following the advice of the university and the university says it is teaching in support of Education Department initiatives. Government is drawing on both groups of ‘experts’ for advice. We are stuck in an ideological stranglehold.

      Every country fortunate enough to have an alphabetic language teaches the code of that language – with the exception of English speaking countries. Therein lies the problem and it is 3 decades old. Ideology knows no logic. it is a huge problem. Despite adverse teacher training, teachers are committed to their profession. They are out there seeking and finding better ways – phonic based ways. Some students get lucky in this game of Russian Roulette.

      Mayhap change can happen from the outside-in. You can’t change the current internal ideology full stop. Extra funding allocated to those causing the problem only serves to perpetuate the problem. We need a paradigm shift from ideological belief back to proven logic.

  2. Astrid English

    Amen. Your article makes good sense. It goes against many aspects of “good reading.”
    I found my training in RR seriously boring. I’d hate to think what the students thoughts of the very prescriptive process.

    1. Thanks Astrid. I have heard other teachers comment on the mind-numbing aspect of the program!
      Prescriptive is okay if you’re prescribing methods that will actually lead to reading. Reading Recovery is all about guessing and incomplete orthographic mapping.
      What worries me is what students think when they go through the program and still fail to master literacy.

  3. A very worthwhile read. Thank you. Confirms everything I always believed and teach myself though I don’t have the linguistics training you do and I predate whole language theory as a child.

  4. Reading recovery has changed my perception on how to teach reading forever – I found it to be fantastic when implemented correctly & therein lies the problem. Not many schools are able to give it the time as they stuff timetables to show quantity over quality & therefore the same children attend SEN classes or most of their primary school years.
    I did not enjoy the actual training sessions except for the teaching behind the screen – but I wasn’t there to enjoy them! I was there to gain an insight to this fantastic programme. The lasting success I have seen from it were outstanding except in cases of too much absenteeism.

    1. Nope. Therein does not lie the problem. When implemented ‘correctly’, the problem is multiplied. Reading Recovery is built on encouraging children to guess at words. It’s a dead end and at odds with the established scientific consensus on the process of literacy acquisition.
      If you can back your claims about how ‘fantastic’ it is and the ‘lasting success’ you have seen with actual data, from valid reading assessments over time (not Running Records), that would be good. But I’m pretty certain you can’t.

      1. Reading Recovery is NOT built on ‘encouraging children to guess at words’. It encourages them to think about the meaning of the story they are reading, the syntax or whether the word makes sense and use the visual information in the word to read the word correctly. When the child is doing this they are integrating all sources of information and thus reading for meaning. I am a trained Reading Recovery teacher and can honestly say that my training was the best professional learning I have received in over 30 years as a teacher. I assisted students who could barely read a line of words on a page to be able to fluently and expressively read whole pages of text. And they were reading, not memorising.

        1. Thanks for your comments, Julie. Let’s look at them piece by piece:

          “Reading Recovery is NOT built on ‘encouraging children to guess at words’.”

          Here’s the thing though: it is. Whether you like it or not, whether you call it something else or not, children exposed to this method become word guessers. This then has to be undone in many cases, wasting valuable time and opportunity to build foundational knowledge of the writing system. So it produces poor readers AND poor writers.

          “It encourages them to think about the meaning of the story they are reading, the syntax or whether the word makes sense and use the visual information in the word to read the word correctly.”

          Please come up to date on how children think and learn. A good starting point is John Sweller’s work on Cognitive Load Theory. RR violates so many principles of this elegant account of how learning takes place, that if you truly understood its implications, you would feel overwhelming shame about past practice. This has happened to countless former RR teachers. It’s uncomfortable but when you know better, you do better.

          As for “visual information”, this plays an insignificant role in word storage and retrieval. Are you, a teacher of over 30 years, seriously saying that you don’t know how the brain stores and retrieves information about words? Is the term ‘orthographic mapping’ unfamiliar to you? If so, I would encourage you to look into it. You might be pleasantly surprised.

          “I am a trained Reading Recovery teacher and can honestly say that my training was the best professional learning I have received in over 30 years as a teacher.”

          Then you have been deprived of high quality PD for all that time and I am sad for you. But sadder still is the thought of all the dozens of children you could have served better and didn’t. I wonder what happened to them.

          “I assisted students who could barely read a line of words on a page to be able to fluently and expressively read whole pages of text.”

          That’s the thing though, YOU didn’t. Those kids were going to learn to read anyway no matter what you did. But cast your mind back to those in your caseload who didn’t make it (and please don’t tell me there weren’t any because then I’d know you were being dishonest). What about those who you discontinued having made little or no progress? What then? How often did you console yourself with thoughts of how it was their fault or their parents’ fault or their home life or their attitude or their dyslexia? Did you really follow up, one, two, three years afterwards? How was their spelling? Did they stay in school? I know you’ll try to assert that they all did absolutely fine, but deep in your heart, you know, and I know, it’s not true and that you’d prefer not to think about them.

          Well, I think about them. I think about all the kids RR failed and are failing right now. And I write about it and I look into why they were failed and I speak out about it, because they deserve better, and because teachers wedded to this philosophy deserve to be asked to look beyond their preconceptions and conditioning and biases and see RR and its whole language/balanced literacy offshoots for what they are.

        2. “It encourages them to think about the meaning of the story they are reading, ”. Eh? Logically I would believe that reading recovery would have to do something with, ”I don’t know, reading.

          So much for logical thinking…

  5. Lyn,
    Did you observe this lesson years ago and are just writing about it now? This feels like an unfair and incredibly unreliable way to write an article… Perhaps you should go to a training site, listen to the discussions of the teachers and teacher leader, ask questions, get some more clarification, listen to the discussions, and see the continual PD. I am a trained RR teacher and also trained in Wilson, as well as have a host of other trainings in literacy, including studying as a Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand- researching the early literacy intervention process in NZ- I am well versed in early literacy acquisition and the development of reading and writing in youngsters- observing one lesson several years ago by one teacher, does not make you an expert on the strategies of Reading Recovery (it is a not a “program”). It might be helpful to base your strong opinions on more substantial observations. The replies discussing how “mind numbing” the training is, is just ridiculous! The training allows teachers to have their students work and data in front of them and discuss next steps in “real time” with colleagues. Unlike a program like OG or Wilson, this is not a lock-step “program”- and remember I’m trained in Wilson- Level 1, so I know how dry that program can be. I feel like I need to speak up because this article is so negative. All kids need different things- some kids benefit from an OG like approach, others may not need something less intense, others may need something else-

    1. Kate,

      You say: “Did you observe this lesson years ago and are just writing about it now? This feels like an unfair and incredibly unreliable way to write an article…”

      I say: I’ll give you three guesses what I’ve been doing since observing that lesson those years ago. Want to know? I’ve been dealing with children badly affected by this program and its philosophical offshoots (e.g. balanced literacy, ‘range of strategies’, ‘meaning-making’) who have ended up not being able to read. So when you tell me about what my piece feels like, perhaps you might want to consider what reading failure feels like for them.

      You say: “Perhaps you should go to a training site, listen to the discussions of the teachers and teacher leader, ask questions, get some more clarification, listen to the discussions, and see the continual PD.”

      I say: Please don’t mistake my antipathy for this program as lack of knowledge about it. I probably know more about it than you do.

      You say: “I am a trained RR teacher and also trained in Wilson, as well as have a host of other trainings in literacy, including studying as a Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand- researching the early literacy intervention process in NZ-”

      I say: So what? You’re still wrong. Also, ‘training’ is an uncountable noun, just like ‘understanding’ or ‘literacy’. I bet you make all of them plural, don’t you?

      You say: “I am well versed in early literacy acquisition and the development of reading and writing in youngsters-”

      I say: You obviously aren’t if you defend this tripe.

      You say: “…observing one lesson several years ago by one teacher, does not make you an expert on the strategies of Reading Recovery…”

      I say: I have never said it does.

      You say: “It is not a program”

      I say: lol

      You say: “It might be helpful to base your strong opinions on more substantial observations.”

      I say: I take it you’re not familiar with the scope of my work then.

      You say: “I feel like I need to speak up because this article is so negative.”

      I say: Let me tell you what’s negative: the self-talk that children failing to learn to read come up with. It’s not just, ‘I’m dumb’ or ‘I don’t like school’. It’s ‘I want to die’. Reading Recovery, the philosophical underpinnings of this low quality program and people who defend it for God knows what reason, are directly responsible for this.

      You say: “All kids need different things-”

      I say: Rubbish. You’re no more an expert on the process of literacy acquisition than my dog.

      But you go ahead and live in your bubble of failing to teach kids to read and write, because it’s your feelings, your investment of time, your philosophy and your job that matters, not the lives of all the children your approach has damaged. Right?

  6. Hi Kate. I’m new to the nuances of this debate on the programme. Just one question about your response (since I am not familiar with Reading Recovery itself). Is this process of questioning during the lesson, an accurate reflection of the way these lessons are conducted? Because that is the kind of poor teaching I have seen over the last 35 years of my teaching career.

  7. I can understand why you didn’t use data. If you did you wouldn’t be able to make Reading Recovery sound like a dead end program. Data, real data, shows it works. They do not encourage students to guess at words. That is very untrue. You are bias because you are selling your product. Reading Recovery is hard hitting competition for what you’re selling

    1. Data? Like that collected during Observation Surveys and Running Records? Do you understand the concept of assessment validity and reliability? I doubt it, given your incorrect usage of the word ‘bias’.
      And trotting out the old straw man argument “You’re just saying that so you can sell something” ignores the very obvious fact that RR is a multi-million dollar industry. Or did you think it was all for charity?
      I don’t compete with RR. I happily promote and link to other businesses that could be classed as competition all the time. Little Learners Love Literacy, Sounds Write, Spelfabet, LETRS etc. all get a big thumbs up in everything I say and do. No, I say these things about RR not because it’s competition, but because it stinks.

      1. Hi, I have just stumbled across this article after several searches for ways or programs to help my grade 1 , 6 yr old to read… grade 2 is 2 yrs ahead of my grade 1…..I know my grade 1 is falling further and further behind, I’m lost as to what is wrong, teachers are interested and say she’s fine…I know different, she is not slow or stupid. This article just explained almost word for word what she does , has done for the last year! Scanning the page for clues and pictures! Drives me crazy! What are you doing? Look at the words! Guessing!!! More guessing! Memorising!!! Boredom!!! First letter of word…guess the rest! …lost…look at the picture or ask me what’s happening???
        She has been stuck for about a year at level 7-8, her sibling one year older was well ahead at the same time level 27. This is stressful, I know everything else is falling way behind, writing spelling maths, everything else requires Reading. Please what should I do? I was about to insist she do reading recovery at school!! Not now I’ve read this, how do I reteach her? I know it must have been her prep teacher, these patterns started at school, and I wondered why her sibling did not use these annoying techniques- simple answer different teacher!
        Thankyou for writing this article.

  8. Kristen Morrelli

    I have been trying for years to get districts to understand that their investments in Reading Recovery have not benefitted their students! I have bashed my head against a wall (figuratively of course) showing the science of how children learn to read. I cannot thank you enough for this article and all of your comments backed by research against proponents of Reading Recovery. Someday this will stop, someday!! Until then rock on; systematic, explicit, multisensory, phonics-based programs with phonological awareness activities embedded in!!

    1. Thanks Kristen. I don’t publish all the comments because they’re so utterly nonsensical (and very obnoxious from time to time). I find it hilarious that people come on to my website, read my articles, say nasty/stupid/untrue things and then expect me to hit the ‘publish’ button (I’m looking at you, Lynda Parsons!). It’s as if they don’t understand the basics of publishing on the internet. Goes along with their understanding of the basics of literacy acquisition I suppose…

  9. Kerryn Wright

    the Day I listened to Dr Maryanne Wolfe and Dr Lorraine Hammond in Adelaide South Australia, about 3 years ago, I sat there after being a Reading Recovery Teacher for 20 years. I said to my colleague. What the heck have I been doing for 20 years. I realized we had all been taken on a ride of the Whole Language approach which did not have any true scientific evidence. It was research based, which meant anyone could do research and make a claim that their information was correct. I have read many of the true evidence based reports as well as scientific information that has come with new technology on how the brain works and I will never go back to Reading Recovery as a program. I am now working with small groups of students using Phonological Awareness ( sub category Phonemic Awareness) using David Kilpatricks’ ” Equipped for reading Success” as well as a systematic synthetic phonics approach to reading using Decodable texts ( published by UK Phonics) Our school has also taken on this approach beginning with the foundation classes last year and Grade 1 and 2 this year. We are finally seeing success. Just remember other Reading Recovery Teachers. We are life long learners and we will only improve if we are prepared to take on board more scientific evidence. Thank you Lyne Stone, Maryanne Wolf, David Kilpatrick, Dr Lorraine Hammond. (Australia) Louisa Moats and many more……

  10. Lyn,

    Thank you so very much for this post. What you describe in your ex-Reading Recovery students is precisely what I observed in a number of the teenagers I helped prepare for the American SAT and ACT college entrance exams. The panicked scanning around the page, the extraordinary difficulty reading in a normal left-right sequence… I wasn’t trained as a reading specialist, and it took me almost a decade to figure out that it was a result of three-cueing instruction ( Once I realized what was going on, however, I started to understand just how divorced from reality a lot of reading instruction has become.

    I really wonder why this type of disordered reading isn’t discussed more frequently; I saw it often enough working with relatively few students that the problem has to be pretty widespread. I suspect that part of the issue is that parents/teachers mostly aren’t looking closely enough to realize that children are reading this way. It also seems plausible that some teachers trained to teach cueing methods see no problem with this type of reading, or more disturbingly, consider it a positive development.


    1. Thank you for your comments, Erica. Unfortunately, this kind of thing is widespread and teachers actively engage in defending 3-cueing even in the face of evidence for the harm it does. It’s an idelogical/personal, belief-driven view and is immune to logic.

  11. Tank you for this insightful article. I taught with a fellow teacher who was ‘trained’ in Reading Recovery and used it in her classroom. It never settled well with me but I could never express what I so strongly disliked about it. You put into words what I could not. And I thank you for it.

  12. Gayle Cameron

    Oh my, yes, I have come to this slowly, reluctant to think that something so indoctrinated could be so lacking . I do not think of it as wrong, just unfounded, lacking many elements of literacy acquisition, incomplete and , because it does not address what it initially tests, a waste of time.
    Yes, the training was tedious and dry. Yes, the students needed much more intervention at later dates. Why? They still needed the tools and knowledge that were not taught initially? As to the guessing, well, phonemic awareness is one things but many words have unique enunciations and therefore STM and LTM need to be engaged. Many of my questions during training and many of my actions ( which I had to hide when being observed) resulted from this evaluation i made.
    Why check the letter/sound /word knowledge , then fail to address the gaps and confusions? Where was scientifically conducted auditory processing testing in all of this? Why was there such a script for teachers, when clearly there were absolute teaching moments with each student? Why address word or vocab. knowledge when letters and sounds and phonemes were not embedded? I am looking forward to my research project which will be looking at this program……and advocating for a better way in the education system….

    1. Thanks, Gayle,
      You ask excellent questions of course. When you say ‘auditory processing’, which subtests in particular do you mean? I’d also love to hear more about your research project.

  13. Pingback: When Schools Create Reading Disorders - Breaking The Code

  14. Keith Klingensmith

    What I do not understand is all the focus on “Reading Recovery” and remediation… Logically it tells me that the initial objective of teaching a child to read (and I even see this remediation in math) was a complete and utter failure; there is no effort to go back and analyze where it all went south in the first place. So you continue to advance incomplete children and counter with more staff to attempt to fix the shortcomings with more shortcomings, the next logical step would be more and more remediators as you advance these kids into the higher grades. This leaves me dumbfounded. If I wrote a book about Mikey the Mushroom, and wanted to find the word “mushroom” and my paragraph was:

    It was a Majestic Monday, the morning rays mingled with the mists of the moor and the moon magically moved off the edge of the horizon. Mikey the Mushroom marched up to his mother, who was making meatballs and mustard sandwiches, and muttered, “Momma, make me a masterful mayonnaise and mincemeat meal on marbled rye, for today, I feel I may move mountains.”

    I guess you limit the words that start with a particular letter. This method should be called, “Go Fish!”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.