Reading Recovery is a school-based, short-term intervention designed for English speaking children aged five or six, who are the lowest achieving in literacy after their first year of school. For instance, a child who is unable to read the simplest of books or write their own name, after a year in school, would be appropriate for a referral to a Reading Recovery program. The intervention involves intensive one-to-one lessons for 30 minutes a day with a teacher trained in the Reading Recovery method, for between 12 and 20 weeks. Reading Recovery was developed in the 1970s by New Zealand educator Marie Clay. After lengthy observations of early readers, Clay defined reading as a message-getting, problem-solving activity, and writing as a message-sending, problem-solving activity. Clay suggested that both activities involved linking invisible patterns of oral language with visible symbols. Reading Recovery is an application of Whole Language instructional principles in an attempt to address the needs of struggling readers, but the scientific consensus is that whole-language-based methods of reading are not as effective as are phonics-instruction-based approaches.
"Reading Recovery" is in use in a number of English-speaking countries. The phrase "Reading Recovery" is a proprietary registered trademark held by the Marie Clay Trust in New Zealand, with The Ohio State University in the US and the Institute of Education in the UK. The Marie Clay Trust and the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization licenses use of the title Reading Recovery to affiliated entities around the world. Australia In 2015, a report from the New South Wales Department of Education, concluded that Reading Recovery was largely ineffective, and should not be used for most children. As a result, in 2016, Reading Recovery lost its "mandated status" as part of the curriculum in NSW's more than 900 public schools, although individual schools may still opt to use it. A further consequence of this shift in policy is that, in 2017, the NSW Department of Education initiated a hiring program to recruit dozens of new literacy and numeracy experts to support teachers in "evidence-based professional learning", according to NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes. New Zealand After Reading Recovery was removed from the curriculum in many Australian schools, its utility has been questioned by researchers and policy makers in New Zealand as well. By 2019, this had led to reduction in use of Reading Recovery in New Zealand's public schools, and toward a greater emphasis on phonics based instruction. Parent activism has also contributed to a rise in phonics based instruction and a concomitant decrease in three cueing system based instruction in New Zealand schools. North America The Reading Recovery Council of North America, Inc. is a not-for-profit association of Reading Recovery professionals, advocates, and partners. It is an advocate for Reading Recovery throughout North America. It publishes two journals for this purpose: The Journal of Reading Recovery and Literacy Teaching and Learning. Reading Recovery and philosophically similar programs are still used in the United States, but there has been significant push back against the approach. Several large school districts have rejected the approach in favor of phonics based instruction. These include Columbus, Ohio, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.