Children are selected for the program based on individual measures of assessment and teacher judgment. Their regular classroom instruction is then supplemented with daily one-to-one 30-minute lessons for 12-20 weeks with a specially trained teacher. The lessons consist of a variety of activities designed to help children develop effective strategies for reading and writing. Each child's program is unique; through careful observation and decision-making, the teacher designs a program to fit each individual student's needs at that particular moment. Instruction continues until the child can read at or above the class average and has demonstrated the use of independent reading and writing strategies. The student's daily tutoring is then "discontinued", providing the opportunity for another child to enter Reading Recovery.

Characteristics of Reading Recovery Lessons

Many early literacy programs try to move at-risk children along an artificial continuum by teaching skills that somehow "add up" to good reading and writing. In contrast, Reading Recovery teachers carefully observe each student as a reader and writer,and make instructional decisions based on what each particular child needs. By working from the unique knowledge base of at-risk students in a one-to-one lesson format, Reading Recovery teachers move well beyond the traditional "skills and drills" approach associated with remedial programs. While the parts of the lesson are the same on most days, the particular books read, the messages written, and the interactions the teacher has with the child are individually crafted to meet his or her needs. Thus, each lesson and the path of progress for each child are different.

The goal of Reading Recovery is accelerated learning. Each child is expected to make faster-than-average progress so that he or she can catch up with other children in the class. The majority of Reading Recovery children typically reach an average reading level after 12-20 weeks of daily instruction. During this period, they continue to work in the regular classroom for all but 30 minutes each day (the length of the Reading Recovery lesson itself).With the assistance of their Reading Recovery teacher, children learn the strategies that good readers use to solve their reading problems, and continue to improve their reading and writing each time they engage in those tasks.

Reading Recovery's Impact on Instruction in Prince William County

In Prince William County, we are finding that Reading Recovery is making a difference not only for the individual students it serves, but is helping to make good language arts instruction even better at the school and district level. Reading Recovery teachers regularly share instructional strategies for young readers and writers with their teaching colleagues, and are often involved in professional development opportunities for teachers district-wide. We realize that the key to a successful Reading Recovery program lies in the quality of instruction each Reading Recovery student receives back in the classroom. Our at-risk youngsters need the best possible instruction throughout their entire day, and a team approach between Reading Recovery teachers and classroom teachers helps to make each student's learning experience a successful one.