This week I had the pleasure of meeting with my resource teacher and Reading Recovery teacher, Sonia Pietzsch, to review the results of the Reading Recovery intervention with our Grade 1 students. The Vancouver School Board is one of the 64 school districts in Canada participating in this reading intervention. David Livingstone Elementary staff support this reading intervention in our school and benefit from being part of the early intervention program in the VSB.
Marie Clay was the literacy educator from New Zealand whose work with Maori children spearheaded the Reading Recovery movement that took hold in Canada in the 1970’s. Her work made it explicit that short term, intensive early intervention by trained literacy educators for students in Grade 1 who struggle:
1. reduced achievement gaps
2. reduced the need for long-term remedial classes.
This has been substantiated with research many times over. Reading Recovery Programs are now in Canadian, New Zealand, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with affiliations also in the Caymen Islands, Ireland, and Malta. The Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery has been collecting data in Canada since 1995-1996 with results from over 200,000 students. The report notes that 100% of students in Reading Recovery make progress in the development of a literacy processing system with two positive outcomes:
- Participating Grade 1 students make accelerated progress and are able to benefit from classroom instruction without the need for further individual support or,
- Participants are identified early in school years as needing long-term or specialist support.
As anticipated, Sonia Pietzsch, reported back the results consistent with national findings for our Grade 1 students participating in Reading Recovery. She, however, noted an additional positive outcome:
“These kids see themselves as readers and writers. They see themselves as capable learners. With 12 – 20 weeks of individual, daily targeted instruction, we have been able to change the trajectory and student perceptions of self.”
In the complexity of the COVID school experiences since March 2019, the good news stories matter. Reading Recovery is certainly a good news story. The Vancouver School Board has included another dimension to the early literacy work in the work. This includes small group, guided reading with Kindergarten to Grade 3 students. It also includes the tracking of our Reading Recovery students all through their primary years (K-Grade 3). Livingstone parents have also helped consolidate emerging literacy skills with PAC funds to ensure classroom libraries and levelled books to facilitate regular home reading programmes.
Thank you, Marie Clay. Thank you, Vancouver School Board.
Thank you, Sonia Pietzsch.
Thank you, Livingstone staff and PAC.