Reading Recovery is a short-term intervention for first graders having extreme difficulty with early reading and writing. Specially trained teachers work individually with students in daily 30-minute lessons lasting 12 to 20 weeks. After a full series of lessons, about 75% of these formerly lowest students reach grade-level standard.

Reading Recovery is based on research suggesting that intensive, high quality intervention during the early years of school is the most productive investment of resources. Researched and developed by Dr. Marie Clay, Reading Recovery provides a supplementary model of instruction for children at-risk in their second year of primary (first grade).

The Collaborative Center for Literacy Development supports the implementation of Reading Recovery in districts where reading levels are low. Districts are assisted with the identification and assessment of literacy needs, professional development and coaching.

Visit the Reading Recovery Council of North America website

In 1996, Dean Shirley Raines from the College of Education hired Dr. Judy Embry to become the Teacher Leader at the University of Kentucky (UK). Also during that school year, Dr. Embry trained Lindy Harmon as a Reading Recovery teacher. During Mrs. Harmon’s training year, a meeting was held with Washington County’s Superintendent Bill Hardin, Lindy Harmon, Judy Embry, and State Senator Dan Kelly (District 14). Senator Kelly was very interested in Reading Recovery due to conversations with Fort Knox Community Schools former superintendent, Dr. Roland Hahn.

During a special legislative session in the spring of 1997, Senator Kelly requested testimony on Reading Recovery from Dr. Embry. Dr. Shirley Raines also spoke to the joint legislative education committee for the creation of an endowed literacy position. In November of 1997, Dr. Embry initiated a fact-finding trip to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The Reading Recovery/Early Literacy fact-finding committee consisted of Dr. Lois Adams-Rodgers, UK; Dr. Denise Jones, UK; Stacy Carmichael, Reading Recovery teacher from Fayette County; Elaine Jones, Reading Recovery teacher/Title I Director, Scott County; State Senator Jack Westwood; and Mike Sunseri, Senate Communications Director who attended the two day meeting at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

After the fact-finding meeting, Senator Westwood (District 23) and Senator Kelly began the creation of Senate Bill 186. During December of 1997 and January of 1998, several revisions of Senate Bill 186 were exchanged between Dr. Shirley Raines, Dr. Lois Adams-Rodgers, and Dr. Denise Jones, and from Dr. Judy Embry to Senators Kelly and Westwood. These discussions of Reading Recovery led to the development an organizational structure, the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD), to house Reading Recovery and the Kentucky Reading Project.

In January of 1998, as Senate Bill 186 was introduced, Governor Paul Patton and several key legislators observed a Reading Recovery lesson at Hearn Elementary in Frankfort with Reading Recovery teacher Vikki Hall. Senate Bill 186 supported the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD) and early literacy intervention grants for struggling readers.
Senate Bill 186 also required the decision of The Council on Post-Secondary Education to determine the placement of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development (CCLD). After a Request for Proposal to all the state universities, the University of Kentucky was honored to be selected as the home base for CCLD.
In 1998, the first two initiatives housed by CCLD were Reading Recovery, directed by Dr. Judy Embry, and the Kentucky Reading Project, directed by Cary Pappas. In 2000-2001, Dr. Embry, under the direction of CCLD Director, Nawanna Privett, began the Training of Trainers at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. After Dr. Embry’s year-long training, she established the Reading Recovery Center at the University of Kentucky in 2001. During 2001-2002, Dr. Embry trained 10 new Teacher Leaders as the first official Reading Recovery University Training Center at the University of Kentucky.

During the 2004 Legislative Session, Governor Ernie Fletcher, First Lady Glenna Fletcher, and key legislators observed a Reading Recovery lesson and small literacy groups at Hearn Elementary in Frankfort, Kentucky. Through his new initiative, Read to Achieve, a new wave of early literacy grants added hundreds of teachers to assist young, struggling readers throughout Kentucky.

The Reading Recovery University Training Center at the University of Kentucky created the first statewide Reading Recovery conference for teachers and Teacher Leaders in 2006. Over 350 Reading Recovery teachers came from all over the Commonwealth to Lexington to study and reflect on Dr. Marie Clay’s Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals, Parts One and Two. During the first statewide Reading Recovery conference, the establishment of the Kelly Literacy Leadership Award was presented to Senator Dan Kelly who has been a champion for young, struggling readers in Kentucky.

In 2006, the Reading Recovery University Training Center expanded the staff through Lindy Harmon as a Statewide Teacher Leader. Lindy has strengthened the Reading Recovery Center with her knowledge of children and teachers. Her expertise with leadership and research continued to expand Reading Recovery as Kentucky moved to full implementation for all struggling literacy learners. During the 2006-2007 school year, Reading Recovery services were provided by 413 Reading Recovery teachers and 20 Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders to 3,506 first-grade children in 278 schools within 84 school district.

With the next Gubernatorial administration in 2008, came a new First Lady to champion literacy for the children in Kentucky. First Lady Jane Beshear and Senator Dan Kelly observed Reading Recovery at Hearn Elementary School in Frankfort Kentucky. Later that year Mrs. Beshear observed Reading Recovery and Small Groups in Louisville. During the tough budget years of 2008-2010, Governor Steve Beshear, Mrs. Beshear, and state legislators supported the literacy efforts of Read to Achieve to help hundreds of young struggling literacy learners.

In 2011-2012, the Reading Recovery University Training Center successfully completed part of its Strategic Plan by training another Trainer for the University of Kentucky. Dr. Lindy Harmon became the second trainer for the Reading Recovery Center by completing her certified coursework through The Ohio State University. Dr. Lindy Harmon completed her first training class of four new Teacher Leaders at the University of Kentucky in 2013-2014. These Teacher Leaders supported implementation in Jefferson and Fayette counties.
In 2012-2013, Kentucky began providing professional development to train English Language Learner (ELL) & Special Education teachers as literacy processing specialists in the Literacy Lessons Intervention. This training supports specialist teachers in their work with special populations. The Reading Recovery University Training Center has supported the training of over 40 specialist teachers in the new Literacy Lessons Intervention over the past two years.

From 2010-2015, the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant trained 245 Reading Recovery teachers and 5 Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders in 223 schools in 118 school districts. The Reading Recovery University Training Center partnered with The Ohio State University to expand implementation of Reading Recovery to reach more struggling students. The grant provided the opportunity by scaling up Reading Recovery to meet the goal of full implementation in breaking the cycle of literacy failure for primary students in Kentucky. It also provide six graduate credit hours of tuition from UK, books, materials, supplies, and a small stipend to assist with educational expenses related to Reading Recovery training. Upon UK’s completion of the fifth and final year of the grant, the Reading Recovery University Training Center continued to provide training and support for Reading Recovery teachers, Teacher Leaders, and districts.

In 2018, the Reading Recovery University Training Center is celebrating its 17th year anniversary under the leadership of Dr. George Hruby, Executive Director of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development at the University of Kentucky.

Reading Recovery® is a cost-effective and proven short term, one-to-one early literacy intervention designed to help students at risk, learn to read and write in first grade.  By intervening early, Reading Recovery can halt the debilitating cycle of failure for low-achieving students.  Reading Recovery enables the lowest-achieving learners to make accelerated progress, catch up with grade-level peers, and profit from regular classroom reading instruction. Reading Recovery researchers have 30 years of data to provide evidence of the program’s effectiveness.

2018-2019 Kentucky Research Highlights

Reading Recovery is implemented by education districts and consortia that are affiliated with university Reading Recovery centers in the United States and with the Canadian Institute of Reading Recovery in Canada. Typically one or more school systems decide to implement Reading Recovery and employ a teacher leader (or leaders) to train teachers for Reading Recovery. In cases where a school district is too small to establish a teacher training site, administrators can contact the University of Kentucky Training Center or nearby teacher training sites about the possibility of affiliation.

Visit the Reading Recovery Council of North America website

Dr. Lindy Harmon, is the Director of the Reading Recovery Center and a Reading Recovery Trainer.  She provides development in Reading Recovery for Kentucky’s primary teachers.

Heather Asher serves as the Administrative Assistant at the Reading Recovery Center and can be reached at 859-257-7859.

Teacher Leaders

Teacher Leader School District Served Training Site
Somer Davis
Bourbon, Scott, Pendleton, Campbell Bourbon County
Anita Armstrong
Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Christian, Crittenden, Graves, Lyon, Mayfield Independent, Marshall, McCracken, Murray Independent Christian County
Beth Magsig
Fayette Fayette County
Amy Emmons
Fayette Fayette County
Vikki Hall (Interim TL)
Franklin, Woodford Franklin County
Amy Goodenough
Jefferson Jefferson County
Allison Henry
Jefferson Jefferson County
Heather Wright
Jefferson Jefferson County
Danna Duff
606-436-3161 ext.5089
Breathitt, Hardan, Hardan Independent, Hazard Independent, Jenkins Independent, Lee, Letcher, Knott, Perry, Wolfe Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative
Christy Hicks
606-436-3161 ext.5089
Carter, Clay, Floyd, Harlan, Leslie, Paintsville Independent Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative
Pam Slone
606-436-3161 x5089
Floyd, Johnson, Martin, Magoffin, Paintsville Independent, Pike, Pikeville Independent Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative
Ashland Independent, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Fairview Independent , Lawrence, Russell Independent Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative
Carla Hinkle
606-546-3496  ext. 1117
Bell, Corbin Independent , Knox, Laurel, Middlesboro Independent, Whitley Knox County
Nancy Lane
Boyle, Bullitt, Burgin Independent, Larue, Marion, Nelson, Spencer, Taylor, Washington Larue County
Amy Smith
Berea Independent, Estill, Garrard, Madison, Somerset Independent Madison County
Tracy Hagan
Clinton, Cumberland, Edmonson, Grayson, Green, Hart, Metcalfe, Monroe, Wayne Monroe County
Debbie Gowins
Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Logan, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio Ohio County
Heather Garland
Oldham, Trimble Oldham County
Sherri Wadsworth
Anderson, Franklin, Shelby Shelby County

Professional Learning Model

A highly qualified teacher makes a difference in student outcomes, especially for children having difficulties. Reading Recovery’s professional development is widely acclaimed as an investment in the professional skills of teachers and a model worth emulating (Herman & Stringfield, 1997).

School districts select Reading Recovery teacher candidates who must be certified teachers with a record of successful teaching experience with young children. These teachers engage in a full academic year of professional development with graduate credit under the guidance of a registered Reading Recovery teacher leader.

Following an intensive week of assessment training to learn to administer, score, and interpret the Observation Survey for Early Literacy Achievement (Clay 2002, 2005), the teachers actively participate in weekly classes while applying their learning by teaching four children individually on a daily basis. Reading Recovery teachers work only part of the school day in one-to-one Reading Recovery lessons. Their professional development also benefits their work in other settings (e.g., classrooms, small groups, work with special populations of children, literacy coaches).

Initial Year of Professional Learning
Reading Recovery teacher training is comprehensive, complex, and intensive because each teacher must learn to design and deliver individual daily lessons. No prescriptive manual or packaged set of materials can meet each child’s individual needs.

Teachers must learn to:
• Systematically and regularly assess each child’s current understandings.
• Closely observe and record behaviors for evidence of progress.
• Use teaching procedures competently and appropriately.
• Put their observations and analyses into words and articulate their questions and challenges.
• Self-analyze teaching decisions to determine the effect on each child’s learning.
• Tailor interactions to extend each child’s understandings.
• Communicate regularly with the classroom teacher about each child’s progress in both settings.

Professional development in Reading Recovery consistently integrates theory and practice. All teachers teach lessons behind a one-way mirror, enabling their colleagues to observe, discuss, and reflect on the teaching and learning.

Ongoing Professional Learning
After their initial year of professional learning, Reading Recovery teachers participate in a minimum of six sessions each year with their colleagues and teacher leader. At least four sessions involve observing lessons through a one-way mirror while talking about child behaviors and teaching moves. This ongoing professional learning system ensures continuous inquiry and teacher learning to support student outcomes.

Teacher Leaders are employed by their local school district where they teach children, train Reading Recovery teachers for local schools, maintain contact with past trainees, analyze and report student outcomes, educate the local educators, advocate for what cannot be compromised, and communicate with the public.
Teacher leaders are selected by a school district or consortium of districts that has made a commitment to implement Reading Recovery. Teacher leaders in the U.S. must have a master’s degree, teaching credentials, effective teaching experience, and leadership potential.

Initial year of Professional Learning
The teacher leader candidate attends a registered university training center in the United States for an academic year of full-time professional learning. Their complex role requires them to:
• become Reading Recovery teachers.
• develop an academic understanding of the theoretical concepts upon which Reading Recovery is based and a flexibility to consider new concepts and practices.
• observe and work through the experiences of a teacher trainee group across an academic year with the support of experienced teacher leaders in the field.
• help teachers develop competency in individualized assessment-based instruction to improve student achievement.
• become skilled at working with adult learners in order to effect significant change in teachers’ practice.
• develop a thorough knowledge of the whole operation of Reading Recovery in an education system including organizing and administering the teacher training course and evaluating and reporting student outcomes,.
• develop interactive system-level leadership skills.

In order to accomplish these goals during the initial year of professional learning, teacher leader candidates teach four Reading Recovery students daily; participate in graduate-level classes that include teaching sessions; engage in course work to explore theoretical concepts in reading, writing, language, literacy difficulties, and adult learning theory; participate in leadership seminars and practica that include field work at established sites; and prepare their home districts for Reading Recovery implementation.

Ongoing Professional Learning
After the initial year, teacher leaders return to full-time positions in their districts/sites and ongoing professional learning. They continue to learn during this field year with the guidance and support of their university trainer(s). They teach children daily in Reading Recovery, train Reading Recovery teachers, and provide leadership for site implementation with the support of the site coordinator (the administrator responsible for overseeing and managing the implementation of Reading Recovery). Teacher leaders oversee data collection on all Reading Recovery children and use evaluation data to work with school leadership teams to improve student performance and implementation factors.

 For more information contact the Reading Recovery Center at 859-257-7859.

Becoming a Reading Recovery university trainer requires a year-long residency program (at the post-doctoral level in the United States). The initial year of professional learning for trainers is offered at four international centers.
Reading Recovery trainers are faculty members within an established university training center (UTC) who are responsible for initial and ongoing professional learning for teacher leaders, supporting a network of affiliated Reading Recovery teacher training sites, expanding and strengthening sites within the network, and ensuring the integrity of Reading Recovery within the region. More than 20 Reading Recovery UTCs currently provide the organizing structure for states or regions of the United States.

Initial year of Professional Learning
The initial year of professional learning for trainers is offered at four international centers: The Ohio State University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Auckland, and the University of London.  During the year of study, candidates learn to:
• teach Reading Recovery children.
• support the development of Reading Recovery teachers across an academic year.
• work with teacher leaders across their initial year of professional development and in subsequent years to ensure cycles of change.
• establish and maintain high-quality Reading Recovery teacher training sites.
• conduct and report research and program evaluation.
• manage a university training center.
• communicate about and advocate for Reading Recovery.

Ongoing Professional Learning
University trainers meet for at least two extended sessions annually and work collaboratively within the North American Trainers Group (NATG). Committee structures within NATG create opportunities for ongoing inquiry and study: teaching and professional development, implementation, and research. Trainers communicate on a continual basis about current theoretical, research, and pedagogical perspectives and conduct research to seek answers to questions about the many complex aspects of the intervention.

North American trainers are also active members of the International Reading Recovery Trainers Organization (IRRTO). The international group is committed to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of Reading Recovery and to supporting change and growth in Reading Recovery through international collaboration, research, and resource development. Sharing and learning from international colleagues further enhances the ongoing professional development of Reading Recovery trainers.

 For more information contact the Reading Recovery Center at 859-257-7859.
Lisa Smith, former Reading Recovery Teacher and current Principal of Ashland Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky speaks about her experiences in Reading Recovery. She explains how she uses Reading Recovery to build capacity and collaboration in her school.

Building capacity at the local school level:

  • Working as a team member
  • Acting as a change agent
  • Promoting ethical problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Prioritizing tasks – developing long term planning and maintaining records
  • Building network and organizational relationships
  • Preparing and delivering presentations

The Comprehensive Intervention Model (CIM) is a systemic approach to literacy improvement. Reading Recovery Teacher Leaders/CIM Coaches are viewed as agents of system change. CIM Coaches provide specialized training and ongoing professional development for intervention teachers/CIM Specialists who work with struggling readers in the primary grades, including Reading Recovery in first grade. CIM recognizes that reading and writing are complex, meaning-making processes. The goal of each intervention is to develop self-regulated, strategic readers and writers who are able to solve literacy problems with flexibility, efficiency, and understanding.

The CIM Intervention portfolios provide teachers with structured predictable lesson components and established routines for daily instruction. Dr. Linda Dorn (University of Arkansas-Little Rock) designed the framework to assist the CIM teachers in problem solving and decision making using data with selecting children’s books, prompting for strategies, and teaching for independence and transfer.

The CIM portfolio includes a collection of seven evidence-based interventions (Grades K-5) from Dr. Dorn’s Interventions that Work series:

  • Reading Recovery
  • Guided Reading Plus Group
  • Assisted Writing – interactive writing group
  • Assisted Writing – writing aloud group
  • Writing Process Group
  • Comprehension Focus Group – genre units of study
  • Comprehension Focus Group – content units of study

For CIM Information, please contact Dr. Lindy Harmon at 859-257-7859

Research on Reading Recovery

Reading Recovery Boosts 1st Graders Reading, i3 Study Finds

By Sarah D. Sparks on March 22, 2016
By Liana Heitin. Originally posted at Curriculum Matters.

A new study of Reading Recovery, a 1-on-1 reading intervention program for 1st graders, found that the program had a significant positive impact on students’ reading achievement. The evaluation, conducted as part of a federal Investing in Innovation scale-up grant, analyzed reading performance for nearly 7,000 1st grade students at more than 1,000 schools over four years. Students were randomly assigned to either the treatment group, in which they received 30 minutes a day of 1-on-1 lessons taught by a trained Reading Recovery teacher, or a control group, in which they received their school’s regular interventions. Students participated in either condition for 12 to 20 weeks.  The researchers, from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and the Center for Research on Education and Social Policy at the University of Delaware, looked at student performance on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills’ tests of reading comprehension and decoding, as well as an early-literacy screener used for Reading Recovery.  They found that students in the treatment group significantly outperformed those in the control group. For total reading on the Iowa Test, the treatment group scored at the 36th percentile after the five-month period, while the treatment group scored at the 18th percentile. (All student participants were struggling readers to begin with.)

The growth rate for Reading Recovery participants was 131 percent of the national average growth rate for 1st graders.

Final independent research report finds i3 scale-up of Reading Recovery ‘highly successful’

Additional Research

USDE Agencies Reviews: 

Florida Center for Reading Research:

How Much Evidence Is Enough Evidence? Richard Allington. (2005). The Journal of Reading Recovery, 4(2), 8-11.