Leading reading intervention at risk as Senate prepares to finalize budget recommendations

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Article Author: William Diehl
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
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NORTHAMPTON, MA – Reading Recovery is a literacy intervention for children who have reading difficulties that plays a vital role in our local public schools. For years, the Reading Recovery program, funded by in part by state and local funds and in part by the “Investing in Innovation” (I3) grant, has made a critical difference to students who begin first grade woefully behind in their reading skills.

Struggling readers provided with intensive one-on-one Reading Recovery services for 3-4 months, see significant gains in both reading and in confidence. These gains build the strong foundation needed to succeed in subsequent years. Reading Recovery has been shown to significantly reduce the number of special education referrals in the first grade. The local cost of providing Reading Recovery services is substantially less than the costs for retention or special education for those same students, and the majority of Reading Recovery children sustain their learning gains.

Federal I3 grant funding for the program is set to expire this year, and at this time, the Consortium for Policy Research in Education has released more positive findings regarding the program’s effectiveness.

When comparing Reading Recovery students’ progress with that of control group students, they outperformed control in every posttest – a difference of +14 percent for total reading, +16 percent for ITBS Reading Words, and +16 percent for ITBS Reading Comprehension,. Across the board, the Reading Recovery readers improved more solidly than the control group readers. The What Works Clearinghouse has consistently found that Reading Recovery outperforms other early literacy interventions for effectiveness on general reading achievement.

Sadly, these findings come at a time when The House Ways & Means Committee recommended elimination of the Reading Recovery line item. An earmark for Reading Recovery of $200,000 in line item 7010-0033 has been included in the House Budget, reducing the state appropriation from last year’s $300,000. This in no way makes up for the loss of federal funds.

We are concerned, as we believe that Reading Recovery provides the opportunity for struggling students in all of our western Massachusetts districts to get just the help they need at the right time to put them on a solid path to learning successfully. Because of this, we ask that teachers, administrators, and parents who may have similar concerns contact their senators immediately and ask them to restore the Reading Recovery line item, 7030-1005 with an appropriation of $900,000.

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