, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 31–58 | Cite as

A Critical Analysis of the Sources of Reading Recovery: An Empiricist Perspective

  • Patrick Groff


This discussion of the sources of Reading Recovery presents the results of an investigation into whether or not this relatively costly, tutoring remedial reading program, designed for primary-grade students, is based on relevant experimental evidence as to how these students best learn to read. The general finding of the study was that Reading Recovery principles and practices are not based firmly on the experimental evidence that supports the so-called “bottom-up” model of children's reading development. To the contrary of Reading Recovery, Marie Clay, favors so-called “top-down” principles and models of reading instruction. Reading Recovery uses several empirically unverified procedures to decide which students are admitted to its tutoring sessions, to determine the progress in reading rehabilitation these tutees make, and to judge when students should be discontinued from Reading Recovery tutelage. The details on the shortcomings of Reading Recovery are judged to be prima facie evidence that it may not be a cost-effective educational innovation. Further authentication in that regard, it is pointed out, are recent studies by disinterested researchers who report that: (a) the initial successes of Reading Recovery in helping disabled readers overcome their handicap are only temporary in nature, and (b) the majority of the precepts and procedures prescribed for Reading Recovery by Marie Clay reflect a top-down orientation to reading development, as does the Whole Language (WL) philosophy of reading attainment. Educators and school boards should take this orientation of Reading Recovery under advisement when considering its purchase, it is urged.

Reading teaching reading recovery Marie Clay whole language direct instruction experimental research qualitative research reading development beginning readers remedial reading 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Groff
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EducationSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoU.S.A.

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