Monthly Archives: March 2016


6 Reasons To Not Use Reading Recovery

6 Reasons not to use RR

Here is a brief summary of the Wrightslaw article:  Reading Recovery:  What Do School Districts Get For Their Money? A Review of the Research by Melissa Farrall, Ph.D.  Please see the entire article for the researched, detailed reasons why Reading Recovery should not be chosen as a reading intervention program for struggling readers, especially for students with dyslexia.

Reading Recovery is an early intervention program that has been widely acclaimed as an effective means to improve the reading skills of young children.  The purpose of Reading Recovery is to reduce the rate of reading failure.  Reading experts have raised concerns about the theoretical foundation, the research base, and the costs associated with the program. These concerns include:

  1. Reading Recovery lacks independent research that validates the program’s success.
  2. Reading Recovery does not include a standard, nondiscriminatory goal for successful completion of the program.
  3. Reading Recovery does not measure progress objectively.
  4. A high percentage of children are dropped from Reading Recovery before they complete the program.
  5. Reading Recovery does not reduce the need for special education and Title I services.
  6. Reading Recovery is expensive when compared to programs that are more effective.

Independent research does not validate Reading Recovery’s claims of success. Reading Recovery lacks a standard, nondiscriminatory goal for improving reading skills. Reading Recovery does not use standard measures of assessment to document progress. In house-data from Reading Recovery does not account for the high number of children who are dropped from the program, or for the selection process used to determine eligibility for the program. Reading Recovery does not reduce the need for special education and Title I services. Finally, Reading Recovery is expensive when compared to other programs.

The biggest problem is qualitative vs quantitative research. Reading Recovery research is based on qualitative research (see Qualitative vs Quantitative Research).

It uses the subjective measure of observations which is not based on structured & validated data-collection.  It also allows bias into the research: the data collectors know which students either received RR or did not receive RR, and the data collection was based on the data collectors subjective observations. “This alone invalidates the entire study and makes it worthless.”

It is not a randomly selected group. As far as the “control” group goes, we don’t know what, if anything, they received. This does not tell us anything. And it is bottom up research: it generates a theory based on the data collected rather than testing the theory with the data.


For more reading:


Reading Rope


The 411 on Dyslexia Simulations


I have done dyslexia simulations, both as a participant and as a facilitator.  To be honest, I had a hard time relating to some of the activities, especially the mirror activity.  If you are not familiar with this, the participant covers their writing hand and looks at what they are writing through a mirror.  My first reaction was “great, this will just reinforce the myth that people with dyslexia see backwards.”  Then I realized that this activity forces you to stop and think about what you are doing.  It eliminates muscle memory, and because you are spending more time thinking about how to write something, it significantly slows you down.

This is the main purpose of dyslexia simulations:  to force people to consciously think about the activity at hand.  Now that more of your brain power is forced to think about the mechanics, not only does this significantly slow you down, but it is also more mentally draining.  The end goal is to help people to better understand and to develop empathy for those with dyslexia.

Recently, an online dyslexia simulation went viral.  It portrayed text in which letters were constantly changing, leaving people with the impression that dyslexia is a visual problem.   The simulation would have been much more effective if strategic letters in words were replaced with letters from a foreign alphabet that we have not been exposed to nor know what phonemes (speech sounds) they represent.

This wouлӆ элiminatэ thэ automaticity wэ эxpэriэncэ with rэaӆing anӆ фorcэ us to guэss at what phonэmэs thэ symбoлs arэ supposэӆ to rэprэsэnt. Anӆ this is a muч morэ accuratэ picturэ oф pэopлэ with ӆysлэxia as thэy ӆo not havэ a фirm grasp oф thэ aлphaбэtic principлэ whiч makэs it vэry ӆiффicuлt to ӆэcoӆэ worӆs.

Below are the Cyrillic characters and their English equivalent and the number of times it appears in the paragraph in ().  Now that you know which letters the Cyrillic characters represent, try reading the paragraph again.

  1. ч = ch (2)
  2. б = b (2)
  3. ӆ = d (11)
  4. e = э (34)
  5. ф = f (6)
  6. л = l (8)


Here is the same paragraph, but with Greek letters.  Is this any easier to read?

ϴis wouλδ eλiminate θe automaticity we experience wiθ reaδing anδ φorce us to guess at what phonemes θe symboλs are supposeδ to represent. Anδ θis is a muχ more accurate picture oφ peopλe wiθ δysλexia as θey δo not have a φirm grasp oφ θe aλphabetic principλe whiχ makes it very δiφφicuλt to δecoδe worδs.

Below are the Greek letters with their English equivalents:

  1. χ = ch (2)
  2. Θ = th (8)
  3. δ = d (11)
  4. φ = f (6)
  5. λ = l (8)


Below is the paragraph in all English.  By replacing letters we know with the equivalent in a foreign alphabet, we have to spend more time on the mechanics of reading – the decoding of words.

This would eliminate the automaticity we experience with reading and force us to guess at what phonemes the symbols are supposed to represent. And this is a much more accurate picture of people with dyslexia as they do not have a firm grasp of the alphabetic principle which makes it very difficult to decode words.

This overly simplifies dyslexia, and it is not just a reading problem, but also affects spelling, writing, and sometimes speech.  Dyslexia is primarily a problem with literacy – a problem with processing the written language.  With the appropriate instruction in Structured Literacy, the vast majority of people with dyslexia will learn to read, it is just more effortful for them than a neurotypical reader.  I liken it to reading in a foreign language that has not been mastered – it is slower, takes more effort, and is mentally draining.



To learn more: