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We ensure that children who struggle in learning to read and write gain the skills for a literate and productive future.

For RRCNA Leadership


Teacher administers Observation Survey to childWhat instrument does Reading Recovery use to measure a student’s progress?
Since Reading Recovery began in the United States in 1984, student outcomes have been documented for every child served. The achievement of specific goals for each child is measured using An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (Clay, 2002, 2005).

Instrumento de Observación de los Logros de la Lecto-Escritura Initial (Escamilla et al., 1996) is used for assessment of Descubriendo la Lectura children. Le sondage d’observation en lecture-ecriture (Clay, 2003) is used for French Canadians learning to read and write in French.

Observation Survey receives highest rating from NCRTI
In an evaluation of screening tools, the National Center for Response to Intervention (NCRTI) reviewed the six tasks of the Observation Survey as a composite and assigned the highest possible rating—Convincing Evidence—in every category. This review validates the use of the Observation Survey as a valid and reliable screening tool to be used to identify and intervene with the lowest literacy achievers in Grade 1.

Read more about research & evaluation

What Works Clearinghouse
Continued Progress
Reviews of Research
Cost Effectiveness
Responding to Critics
Data Evaluation: IDEC
Measuring Outcomes


Measuring Outcomes

What are Reading Recovery’s two positive outcomes?
Reading Recovery serves the lowest literacy achievers in Grade 1, children who are not catching on to the complex set of concepts that make reading and writing possible. For children with a complete intervention, two outcomes are possible. Both are positive for the child and for the school.

  1. The child has made accelerated gains, reaching grade-level expectations in reading and writing. The child demonstrates strategic activities that will foster continuing achievement in the classroom without additional support.
  2. The child has made progress but does not meet the rigorous criteria for grade-level expectations. This child is recommended for further evaluation and future instructional support as needed.

What are the criteria for meeting grade-level expectations?
Multiple criteria are considered before determining if a child is ready for the individual lessons to stop. Consideration is given to a child’s ability to

  • read increasingly more difficult texts at an instructional level, learning from his own efforts to solve problems as he reads;
  • compose increasingly complex messages using resources to get to new words, monitoring and editing work, and knowing when and how to get help; and
  • continue to learn in the classroom.

How is Reading Recovery’s evaluation conducted?
The International Data Evaluation Center (IDEC) at The Ohio State University collects data on every child from every Reading Recovery site in the United States on an annual basis. Each child is assessed before entering Reading Recovery, again upon leaving Reading Recovery, and at the end of the school year. Each child leaves Reading Recovery with a documented intervention status (outcome); one of the following:

  1. Discontinued (meaning a child has reached grade-level performance and no longer needs the supplemental support)
  2. Recommended action after a complete intervention of 20 weeks (meaning a child is recommended for assessment/consideration of future instructional support as needed)
  3. Incomplete intervention at end of school year (meaning a child is in Reading Recovery at the end of the year with insufficient time – fewer than 20 weeks – to exit the intervention)
  4. Moved while being served
  5. None of the above (meaning a child is removed from the intervention under extremely unusual circumstances such as placement in kindergarten by school officials)

This evaluation system provides direct accountability for each child’s progress and provides a record of strengths and continuing needs for each child. IDEC evaluation also includes process data to guide intervention decisions. (See www.idecweb.us for information about Reading Recovery evaluation and copies of national reports.)

In addition to IDEC evaluation, Reading Recovery university training centers throughout the U.S. analyze and publish outcomes. Evaluation frequently includes qualitative data about stakeholders’ perspectives on Reading Recovery: parents, classroom teachers, administrators, and Reading Recovery professionals.

What are the outcomes of Reading Recovery as an early intervention?
Data on more than 2 million children served by Reading Recovery in the United States have been collected, analyzed, and reported by the IDEC.

  • Since 1984, when Reading Recovery began in North America, approximately 75% of the students who completed the full intervention met grade-level expectations in reading and writing.
  • The students with complete interventions who do not reach grade-level literacy expectations have made progress and are evaluated to determine the need for future support (e.g., classroom support, Title I, LD referral).
  • Children who do not have enough lessons to complete the intervention because the school year ends make important gains on all six measures of the Observation Survey.
  • Follow-up studies indicate that most Reading Recovery students do well on standardized and state assessments in subsequent years.


Clay, M. M. (2002, 2005). An observation survey of early literacy achievement (2nd ed., rev. 2nd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Clay, M. M. (2003). Le sondage d’observation en lecture-ecriture. Toronto: Les Editions de la Cheneliere.

Escamilla, K., Andrade, A. M., Basurto, A. G. M., & Ruiz, O. A. (1996). Instrumento de observación de los logros de la lecto-escritura inicial. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.