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It was noted that many reading researchers (Wrights Law, 2002) have expressed concerns about Reading Recovery in regards to instructional content, grouping size, standardization, and monitoring . These are the same concerns that practicing school psychologists deal with on a daily basis when working with problem solving teams and students who are displaying reading difficulties. As practitioners, the movement into a response to intervention model has prompted many of us to ask or explore: what is being taught in general education and pull out programs, how are the students’ needs met, how are students grouped, how is progress monitored, and how do you know whether or not additional reading supports need to be implemented or additional evaluation information needs to be collected in order to access special education? The assessment-intervention link that has been emphasized by the RtI model, has had a significant impact on the role of school psychologists and their ability to facilitate the movement of educational teams and educators into a scientific, research based model of educational decision making. The data obtained through this project, illustrates several of the dilemma that practitioners experience making the assessment-intervention link.

First, the data showed that one of the schools in this project was not matching the proposed percentages of students in the three tiered intervention model of service delivery (Dorn, 2008). The RtI model proposes 80% of the school population should be in Tier I. According to the data from School 1, the literacy interventionists were consistent with their identification of between 59-66% of third grade students who met regular education reading goals. This was also consistent with the data from the state reading exam (67%). However, the 2009-2010 data suggests that more students were identified as needing extra help than would be endorsed by RtI advocates. The second school showed more students meeting reading goals (84-87%) according to reading interventionist data, but state reading exam showed fewer students met reading goals (78%).

The schools need to address whether the general education curriculum is teaching the fundamentals, the Big 5 Ideas that the National Reading Panel details as being the essentials to effective instruction. Other questions include: Should the benchmark tools (text levels or writing rubrics) be changed? Was progress monitoring data collected and reviewed? Were tiered interventions implemented to meet the needs of students not making progress towards reading goals?

Reading Recovery: Can School Psychologists Contribute?Ruth M. Kelly, Western Illinois UniversityKelly R. Waner, Special Education Association of Adams CountyGay L. Hull, Bi-County Special Education Coop


Reading Recovery is a commonly used early reading intervention which has been found to have positive scientifically based outcomes according to a review by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse (2008). The WWC review found positive effects for alphabetics and general reading achievement, and potentially positive effects for fluency and comprehension.

Despite these positive ratings, the program continues to be controversial with some reading experts. Over thirty reading experts published a letter on the Wrightslaw Web site (2002) expressing concerns about the program. They sited scientifically based independent evidence that Reading Recovery does not work with the lowest performing readers and they state that Reading Recovery published studies exclude 25-40% of the lowest readers from their results. The outside experts question the methodology used in the evaluation studies. These experts believe the program could be improved by teaching in small groups instead of one-on-one, adding explicit instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness, using standardized measurement tools, and monitoring progress.

Dorn (2008) provides a description of how Reading Recovery fits the RtI framework. She states 80% of all students need to meet reading goals with the core curriculum from the classroom instruction. Reading Recovery is a Tier 3 intervention in a 4 tier model. Students are identified for more intensive interventions with entry/exit assessments which include the Observation Survey and text reading levels. She suggests using running records, book graphs and writing vocabulary charts for progress monitoring tools. The Fountas and Pinnell, Leveled Literacy Intervention provides instructional reading levels for the first three grades.

This paper will explore the role of school psychologists in the implementation of Reading Recovery as part of the Response to Intervention (RTI) service delivery model. The types of data collected by literacy interventionists who rely on Dorn’s literacy model will be compared with performance of the students on the high stake’s reading exam given to every third grade student in the state and the recommendation that 80% of students make adequate reading progress in Tier 1.



Two primary (K-3 grades) elementary schools, with 330 and 224 student enrollment in a small Midwestern city, collected data from students at each grade level. The student population was primarily white (82%/84%). Both schools met adequate yearly progress in reading (67%/78%) in the spring of 2009.


The literacy teachers shared their assessment tools and assessment scores for the 2009-2010 school year. The assessment tools at each grade level included the student’s current reading level based on placement in Fountas & Pinnell (2009) Leveled Literacy Intervention curriculum and writing rubrics based on Fountas & Pinnell and Dorn & Soffos, (2001). No psychometric data was reported for these methods.


According to the high stakes state standards, 67% and 78% of the students met the reading goal in Spring 2009. Reading goals were met by 66% and 87% of third grade students in the fall 2009 assessments conducted by literacy interventionists. The most recent reading assessment results show 59% and 84% met the goals in January 2010 for 3rd grade students. One school also reported data collected by the literacy interventionists during fall 2008 and 61% of students met the reading goal.