The Impact of an Early Literacy Intervention: Where Are the Children Now?

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The purpose of this study was to contribute to and strengthen previous work that examined the long-lasting effects of Reading Recovery in statewide efforts aimed at bolstering early literacy achievement and reducing early learning difficulties. Specifically, the study explored the literacy achievement of Reading Recovery participants whose series of lessons had been successfully discontinued during their first-grade year at points 1, 2, and 3 years beyond receiving the intervention in Indiana—providing a picture in time for where the children are now.

The participants included randomly selected children who had either successfully completed Reading Recovery or who had not participated in the intervention (i.e., cohort sample) from the three grade levels in 253 schools in Indiana. The two assessment instruments used to gauge literacy performance included the running record of oral text reading (Clay, 1993) and the comprehension and vocabulary subtests of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests and the score for total test. The fourth-grade former Reading Recovery children’s results on the state achievement test taken in third grade were collected from their school records to establish their achievement distribution 2 years beyond the intervention.

Results indicate a considerable majority of the former successful Reading Recovery children were reading text at or above their grade level and that 1, 2, and 3 years beyond the intervention, Reading Recovery children were performing roughly as well as or better than their cohort sample peers on the task of oral text reading.

Analysis of the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test data indicated the vast majority of the previously successful Reading Recovery children performed within the calculated average bands of the cohort sample groups at each grade level, indicating the formerly struggling learners were continuing to progress with their peers in literacy. In addition, the former Reading Recovery fourth graders achieved a normal curve distribution with a mean of the 45th percentile on the Indiana State Test of Education Progress (ISTEP), a considerably different pattern from their first-grade 15–20% achievement range.

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