Reading Recovery programs have been implemented in schools successfully for the past 30 years. Experts have built more and more research regarding the ways that children most effectively learn to read, and teachers were given the opportunity to attend fortnightly seminars regarding the latest information; Gathering these important skills for themselves and taking them back to schools to give struggling children a better start to their educations. From 2018, the government has made the decision to stop any system support for Reading Recovery programs in schools.
Many schools have consequently had to axe their Reading Recovery programs due to the lack of funding. This leaves children, some who enter school knowing only two letters of the alphabet, to try and struggle to catch up with the rest of their cohort. The many years of research conducted through Reading Recovery have also identified that around the age of grade 3, struggling children begin to realise that they are different to their cohorts. This realisation usually then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, wherein children stay incapable of reading because they don’t believe that they are capable of getting better. Reading Recovery was therefore crucial to the lives of many children, as it meant that this detrimental cycle was often caught early, before it had the chance to take effect.
The reason that the government has provided for this cessation of support is the evaluation they conducted in 2015 on the effectiveness of Reading Recovery. This evaluation followed a myriad of experiments that had found massive effectiveness to the program in regards to reading, alphabetics and more. The evidence in this evaluation was gathered through past Reading Recovery data, NAPLAN data and ‘Best Start’ data. Even though the data showed that after one year of Reading Recovery, 80% of students no longer needed extra help, the government believed that this effectiveness was not robust enough to merit the resources that go into it. This was because the program was most effective in Kindergarten-Year 1 and dropped off after this point. Yet, surely Reading Recovery is still worth it for those early learners? I mean, it pertains to giving all children a fair chance to achieve success in life!
So, what is the government replacing this program with? Well, the idea is to provide each teacher with more literacy and numeracy training so that they can give out more effective lessons to their classes. This sounds wonderful, that there will be a more professional focus on phonics in the classroom and pseudoword literacy tests for these skills, etc. Yet, I’m not entirely convinced that this could replace the benefits of one-on-one attention for students that are severely struggling. How will teachers get around the greatly varying levels of literacy in their classroom of 30 children? I suppose time will tell.
Regardless, children need the best start to reading literacy that we can give them. K12 Academy runs initiatives such as Begin 2 Learn (for preschoolers) and tutoring for early schooling in order to combat these issues. These small group sessions allow each child to receive more attention than they usually would in a classroom environment.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X.