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Reading Recovery’s roots reach to 1966, when Marie Clay completes her dissertation, “Emergent Reading Behaviour” at the University of Auckland. Because she studied and recorded change for children at all progress levels, she begins to understand what to try to teach low-achieving children to do. Marie becomes a leader in an effort to help New Zealand teachers engage in systematic observation of reading and writing behaviors. Using assessments she designed, there is a national training effort that results in the assessment of all 6-year-olds. Teachers can now see the reading process going wrong for some children, and they turn to Marie with the question, “Now what do we do about it?”

In 1976 and 1977, Marie Clay and a team of six teachers study teaching and learning. Each week, one teacher teaches a child behind a one-way mirror while the rest of the team discusses the child’s difficulties, how the teacher responds, and how this relates to theory and practice. This work with 6-year-old learners reveals that children have diverse problems with print, and they also have diverse strengths and skills. Building on strengths, teachers discover they can design individual instruction to accelerate learning. Marie Clay writes of this time saying, “By the end of 1977, we had a well-documented miracle full of surprises.”

In 1978, Reading Recovery is given a field trial in five New Zealand schools with results so successful that national implementation begins in 1983. In 1982, a team of professors from The Ohio State University meets with Marie Clay when they travel to New Zealand for an international reading conference. Reading Recovery emigrates to Australia and the United States in 1984.


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