Which program produces more significant reading gains for struggling first-grade readers within a twelve week time period: a balanced literacy approach such as modified Reading Recovery or a phonetic approach such as Early Reading Intervention?
Studies throughout the world have shown Reading Recovery to be effective with diverse populations, closing the gap in students’ learning along racial and economic lines (Ashdown & Simic, 2000; Center, Wheldall, Freeman, Outhred, & McNaught, 1995; Lyons, 1998; Pinnell, Lyons, Bryk & Seltzer, 1994; Quay, Steele, Johnson, & Hortman, 2001; Rodgers, Wang, & Gomez-Bellenge, 2005; Sylva & Hurry, 1996; Swartz & Klein, 1996). Cox, Fang, & Schmitt (1998) found that Reading Recovery may be especially effective in helping at-risk children accelerate to or even surpass the level of their peers in terms of gaining metacognitive control. The Reading Recovery program is a balanced approach to literacy. A new program emphasizing phonology, Early Reading Intervention (ERI), has been promoted by Dr. Kame'enui, its author, and the National Reading First Centers as a program which will help struggling beginning readers become readers. The goal of this study is to determine which type of program, a balanced approach such as a modified Reading Recovery approach or a phonetic approach such as Early Reading Intervention, produces more significant reading gains for struggling first-grade readers within a twelve week period.
Presently there are two differing points of view theorists have on
teaching reading. One group of theorists stresses research
evidence emphasizing meaning, language context, prediction, anticipation
and graphophonics in their theories of reading processing. The
Recovery program's instruction is an example of this point of view.
Reading Recovery (RR) is a 12-20 week accelerated program designed to move struggling first grade readers in a short time from the bottom of their class to the average (Lyons, 1998; Swartz & Klein, 1996). At the end of the RR program, children develop a self-extending system that uses a variety of strategies to read increasingly difficult text and to independently write their own messages (Clay, 1991). These outcomes are sustained over time (Lyons, 1998; Shanahan & Barr, 1995; Swartz & Klein, 1996).
RR provides one-to-one tutoring, five days per week, 30 minutes a day, by a specially trained teacher. RR uses supportive conversations between teacher and child as the primary basis of instruction. For this reason, RR teachers are required to train for a year in this method as they work with students. After the year long training, RR teachers are required to meet throughout the year with their RR Teacher Leader to refine their instructional techniques and keep abreast of new findings in the field (Swartz & Klein, 1996).
Reading Recovery lessons consist of the following components:
· Reading familiar stories
· Reading a story that was read for the first time the day before
· Working with letters and/or words using magnetic letters
· Assembling a cut-up story
· Introducing and reading a new book
(Swartz & Klein, 1996)
As a result of RR, learners construct their own knowledge by actively pursuing meaning, relating new learning to old, and using strategies to solve problems. Print knowledge and letter-sound associations become internalized. By learning how to learn as they explore a variety of stories under expert tutorial guidance, young children develop a self-extending system; that is, the more they read, the more they learn about the reading process (Clay, 1991; Jones, 1995).
According to Pinnell (2000), Reading Recovery lessons contain the components recommended by the NICHD. The instructional techniques used in Reading Recovery to teach reading and writing appear to foster both naming speed and phonological awareness (Litt, 2003). Gains achieved by Reading Recovery students on phonological processing tasks provide strong support for Reading Recovery’s effectiveness in promoting phonological processing abilities (Stahl, Stahl, & McKenna, 1999).
Pikulski reviewed five successful early reading intervention
programs that have been researched extensively: Success for All, the
Winston-Salem Project, the Boulder Program, Reading Recovery and the
Early Intervention in Reading Program (Taylor). The characteristics
common to these successful reading intervention programs were the
following (Pikulski, 1997):