An Efficacy Follow-Up Study of the Long-Term Effects of Reading Recovery Under the i3 Scale-Up

The purpose of the Efficacy Follow-up Study of the Long-Term Effects of Reading Recovery is to test the sustained efficacy of Reading Recovery (RR), an intensive one-on-one reading instruction program for the lowest-achieving first grade students, on state test scores in third and fourth grade. Many first grade students struggle with reading and for some of these students, low literacy achievement in first grade can set them up for continued difficulty in literacy throughout elementary school and beyond. The Reading Recovery program is based on the idea that individualized, short-term, and highly-responsive instruction delivered by an expert teacher can disrupt this trajectory and allow the lowest achieving students to catch up to their peers. This study is a follow-up study to an i3-funded scale-up study of the Reading Recovery program.


Reading Recovery is a fully-developed program that uses intensive one-on-one reading instruction for the lowest-achieving first grade students in a school. These students receive 12- to 20-week cycles of daily, 30-minute, one-on-one lessons from specially trained Reading Recovery expert teachers. Lessons target phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Reading Recovery teachers receive specialized training that prepares them to tailor lessons to an individual student’s strengths and needs. Each lesson begins with re-reading familiar books, followed by word and letter work, story composition, assembling a cut-up sentence, and previewing and reading a new book. Reading Recovery also relies on continuous collection of data to gauge student progress.

Study Activities:

In this study, the researchers obtained state test scores for students who participated in the original i3 study as well as students from non-i3 schools to see if the impact of Reading Recovery is sustained through third and fourth grades. In addition to collecting students’ third and fourth grade reading or English language arts state test scores, we also administered an online survey through which RR Teacher Leaders or Teachers documented specific details of the experiences of individual Reading Recovery and comparison group students in terms of continued performance monitoring to detect a recurrence of reading problems and participation in supplemental reading programs and interventions. Data for over 9,000 students in more than 700 schools were collected for this study.


Three working papers (prior to peer-review) are being presented at the Annual Conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) on April 23, 2022. Copies of the presentation slides and working papers are available here.

If you have questions about this study, please send an email to the research team at


May, H., Sarfo, A., & Englert, A., (in preparation, 2018). Short-Term Impacts of Reading Recovery in First Grade: A Regression Discontinuity Study from the 2011-12 Cohort of Non-i3 Schools.

Gray, Abigail; Goldsworthy, Heather; May, Henry; and Sirinides, Philip. (April, 2017). Evidence for Early Literacy Intervention: The Impacts of Reading Recovery. CPRE Policy Briefs. Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

May, H., Sirinides, P., Gray, A., & Goldsworthy, H. (March, 2016). Reading Recovery: An Evaluation of the Four-Year i3 Scale-UpPhiladelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

May, H., Gray, A., Sirinides, P., Goldsworthy, H., Armijo, M., Sam, C., Gillespie, J., & Tognatta, N. (June, 2015). Year One Results from the Multi-Site Randomized Evaluation of the i3 Scale-Up of Reading RecoveryAmerican Educational Research Journal 52(3), 547 – 581.

May, H., Goldsworthy, H., Armijo, M., Gray, A., Sirinides, P., Blalock, T., Anderson-Clark, H., Schiera, A., Blackman, H., Gillespie, J., & Sam, C. (December, 2014). Evaluation of the i3 Scale-Up of Reading Recovery: Year Two Report, 2012-13Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

May, H., Gray, A., Gillespie, J., Sirinides, P., Sam, C., Goldsworthy, H., Armijo, M., & Tognatta, N. (August, 2013). Evaluation of the i3 Scale-Up of Reading Recovery: Year One Report, 2011-12Philadelphia: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.

Start Date: August 1, 2017

End Date: July 31, 2022

CRESP Lead Researcher: Henry May, Akisha Sarfo

Funder: Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education

Partner Organization(s):The Ohio State University, International Data Evaluation Center

Partner Experts:Steve Amendum (UD), Philip Sirinides (Penn), Abigail Gray (Penn), Sean Reardon (Stanford), Brooks Bowden (NC State)

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