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In the United States. Reading Recovery’s introduction in North America begins in fall 1984, when Marie Clay and Barbara Watson come to The Ohio State University (OSU) to begin training America’s first Reading Recovery educators. Students achieve remarkable growth that is reflected in evaluation data. This success creates excitement and begins 17 years of annual growth for Reading Recovery in the U.S. To support continued evaluation and research, the National Data Evaluation Center is established in 1986 as an ongoing research project at OSU.

Given the early evidence of effectiveness of the intervention, demand increases as more districts seek to implement Reading Recovery to help their lowest-achieving students. In 1987, USDE’s National Diffusion Network selects Reading Recovery as a demonstration project to scale up the intervention outside Ohio. The Ohio State University leads this first scale up with Carol Lyons as principal investigator. Faculty are recruited to establish and direct university training centers (UTCs) across the country; they will work with school districts to establish regional teacher training centers that are headed by teacher leaders trained by the faculty. Within this first decade, 19 UTCs are established. Of those, 14 are still active in 2014: California State University at San Bernardino, California State University–Fresno, Clemson University, Georgia State University, Lesley University, New York University, Oakland University, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois, University of Maine, University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Western Michigan University, Saint Mary’s College, and Texas Woman’s University.

Leadership from university faculty shape the development of Reading Recovery in the United States as trainers meet to discuss organization, training of teachers and teacher leaders, and fidelity of implementation in schools. This leadership will formally be named the North American Trainers Group in 1998.

In 1993, initial steps are taken to create a national organization of Reading Recovery educators and advocates. Four initial purposes for the Reading Recovery Council of North America (RRCNA) will remain important in the following years: sustaining quality, expanding to full implementation, strengthening effective literacy education and supporting research and teacher education.

Reading Recovery in Spanish. In 1988, work begins on Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL). In Arizona, a Collaborative for Reading Recovery in Spanish field tests tasks from the Observation Survey. By 1991, reliability and validity of Instrumento de Observación is established after testing at four sites. Soon, a DLL class of bilingual teachers is trained in Tucson, Spanish book lists are developed, and research confirms that DLL produces results similar to those of Reading Recovery in English.

By the end of its first decade in North America, more than 145,000 first-grade children in the United States have had Reading Recovery or Descubriendo la Lectura lessons.

In Canada. Training for Canada’s first Reading Recovery teachers begins in Scarborough, Ontario in 1988, and in Nova Scotia in 1989. In 1993, the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery is officially opened with a visit by Marie Clay, and the first class of Canadian teacher leaders is in training conducted in Toronto by Canada’s first trainer. The following year, teacher leaders from the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Quebec are trained at The University of Toronto, Scarborough campus. By June 1996, there are over 50 teacher leaders across the country.


This 30th Anniversary History Timeline includes photos and excerpts from previous RRCNA publications.