Is Reading Recovery like Stone Soup?

Filling the pail

Researchers from the Universities of Delaware and Pennsylvania have written a paper describing a large, multi-site, randomly controlled trial of Reading Recovery. The effect size is impressive: 0.69 when compared to a control group of eligible students. This is above Hattie’s effect size threshold of 0.40 and so suggests that we should pay attention. As a proponent of evidence-based education, you may think it perverse of me to question such a result.

It’s not.

Reading Recovery involves taking students out of normal lessons and giving them a series of 30-minute one-to-one reading lessons with a Reading Recovery trained teacher over a period of 12 to 20 weeks. So the intervention packages together a number of different factors including:

– the specific Reading Recovery techniques

– additional reading instructional time on top of standard classroom reading instruction

– one-to-one tuition

Each of these factors could plausibly impact on a child’s reading progress. For instance, we…

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