Over the last three years, British educators have begun to use New Zealand’s Reading Recovery Program. Achievement testing in both countries has shown significant gains in the reading skills of Reading Recovery students. Researchers Maggie Moore and Barrie Wade, University of Birmingham, gathered subjective evaluations from parents to corroborate the findings of statistical studies in order to provide greater validity in interpreting the effectiveness of Reading Recovery.
Moore and Wade interviewed parents of the 47 poorest readers in 18 schools. Each child was enrolled in Reading Recovery or had just recently completed the program. These parents were of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. The interviewers made clear that they had no connection with local schools or the Reading Recovery program, and encouraged parents to speak frankly.
Parents were uniformly positive about the program and about the progress their child had made. They were gratified that the schools encouraged parental involvement in the program. Invited to watch reading sessions, parents saw the strategies teachers used and they reported that this influenced the kind of help they gave their children at home. They were made aware of the importance of praise and became much more positive and encouraging when working with their children. In addition, parents reported that they gave increased attention to reading sessions, and enjoyed their role very much.
An increase in confidence
Parents were impressed with the high quality of the readings in the program and with their child’s enthusiasm for these stories. Most parents felt that their child’s confidence had increased as has his willingness to take risks in reading. Parents said their child was now able to take cues from his reading and had developed problem-solving techniques. They stated that this progress extended beyond reading into writing and other areas of the school curriculum. Parents reported that their child’s spelling, as well as the ability to organize, to plan, and to solve problems had all improved. They also noted that their child read more on their own time.
Twelve of the 47 children whose parents were interviewed were second-language learners. These parents were as postive about the benefits of the program as were the single-language parents.
Moore and Wade report that the only negative comments about Reading Recovery concerned access to the program. Several parents had other children or knew of other children in need of reading help who could not get into the program. One parent spoke of the marked difference between her two children. The child who did not have the opportunity to participate in the program cannot read and write properly, does not have as much confidence and does not perform as well in school as the child who completed the Reading Recovery program. These parents feel strongly that Reading Recovery should be more widely available.
“Reading Recovery: Parents’ Views”, English in Education, Volume 27, Number 2 pp. 11-17.
Published in ERN, November/December 1993, Volume 6, Number 5