July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

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July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Jul 09, 2015 10:00 pm

Very revealing new paper by Prof James Chapman and Prof William Tunmer on Reading Recovery - delivered by James Chapman in Vancouver, July 2015:

http://www.iferi.org/a-new-paper-by-pro ... -recovery/

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Re: July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

Post by chew8 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:34 pm

RRF moderator maizie has told me about another new article on Reading Recovery:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1 ... cxFDvlViko

I’ve managed to get hold of the whole article and wonder whether the authors are right to refer to certain other studies (e.g. Center, Wheldall, Freeman, Outhred, & McNaught, 1995; Iversen & Tunmer, 1993) as part of the ‘sufficient body of evidence’ that ‘supports the effectiveness of Reading Recovery as an early literacy intervention programme’.

I have the Iversen and Tunmer study and have re-read it. Here’s the abstract:

‘[The study] sought to determine whether the Reading Recovery Program would be more effective if systematic instruction in phonological recoding skills were incorporated into the program. First-grade at-risk readers were divided into 3 matched groups of 32 children each; a modified Reading Recovery group, a standard Reading Recovery group, and a standard intervention group. The children in the modified Reading Recovery group received explicit code instruction involving phonograms. Results indicated that, http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/post ... 9#although both Reading Recovery groups achieved levels of reading performance required for discontinuation of the program, the modified Reading Recovery group reached these levels of performance much more quickly. Results further indicated that the children selected for Reading Recovery were particularly deficient in phonological processing skills and that their progress in the program was strongly related to the development of these skills.'

I have some reservations about the study: e.g. the ‘phonological recoding skills’ taught to the ‘modified’ RR group were basically onset-rime, and one of the measures used by the researchers was the Bruce 1964 phoneme deletion test, which contains some errors. I can have those reservations, however, while still feeling that Higgins et al. are suggesting that the article is more supportive of RR in general than it really is.

I thought I had the Center et al. study but can’t find it. Again, though, here is the abstract, which, in view of the medium- and long-term results, doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement of RR:

‘The authors evaluated the effectiveness of Reading Recovery (RR) in 10 primary schools in New South Wales. Children were randomly assigned to either RR or a control condition in which they received only the resource support typically provided to at-risk readers. Low-progress readers from five matched schools where RR was not in operation were used as a comparison group. Results indicated that at short-term evaluation (15 weeks), the RR group were superior to control students on all tests measuring reading achievement but not on two out of three tests which measured metalinguistic skills. At medium-term evaluation (30 weeks) there were no longer any differences between the RR and control children on seven out of eight measures. Single-case analysis suggested that, 12 months after discontinuation, about 35% of RR students had benefited directly from the program, and about 35% had not been "recovered." The remaining 30% would probably have improved without such an intensive intervention, since a similar percentage of control and comparison students had reached average reading levels by this stage.’

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Jenny C.

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Re: July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:06 pm

Hi Jenny,

The study you mention has also been flagged up to me by James Chapman and he, too, has concerns about it.

I described to him how you had worries about the study and he has subsequently given me permission to share his comments with you and in the public domain.

James commented:
Yes, I read that section of the article and was amazed. A number of the claims are simply false, or studies have been seriously mis-represented. The Center, Wheldall et al study did not conclude with a blanket support for RR. My recollection is that they found RR worked better for children who came from a code-oriented classroom, but overall RR kids did not do particularly well.

The Iversen & Tunmer (their mis-spelling) study, was conducted in Rhode Island where Sandra was contracted to train RR teachers (she was a RR teacher trainer in NZ at the time; long since parted ways). This study was based on her Masters thesis and compared a phonologically enhanced variation of RR with regular RR. She found that the enhanced approach worked just as well in shorter periods of time. The article did not conclude that RR was necessarily efficacious, but rather that the programme should be changed to include word-level decoding skills and strategies. The authors of the article also drew on the Iversen, Tunmer & Chapman article (based on Sandra's PhD done in a "diverse" and deprived part of Florida). Here, Sandra found that small group instruction worked as efficiently as 1:1, and was better with more attention to decoding skills. The article was hardly an endorsement of RR.

Reference to our 2001 study is reasonably accurate, though we didn't report effect sizes and although our study was based within a 3 year project, the RR kids showed no improvement as a result of being in the programme when compared to normally achieving or another group of poor readers. We tracked data points over 3 years to determine whether RR resulted in an "acceleration" effect, which is one of the stated goals of the programme. It didn't. We've been criticised for the nature of the research design, which is part of the research business, but the fact remains that there was no acceleration effect during or following RR for these children.

I'm not aware of studies that have found longer term effects (lasting effects) for RR. On the contrary, the paper I presented at the IARLD conference in Vancouver last month [July 2015] and shared with you and others, showed any positive effects from RR tend to wash out. The only lasting effect for many/most RR children is ongoing reading failure.

The study really is seriously flawed!!

Many thanks Debbie for passing this on!

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Re: July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:28 pm

I've shared these worries via the IFERI forum here:

http://www.iferi.org/iferi_forum/viewto ... p=554#p554

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Re: July 2015 Paper on Reading Recovery: James Chapman and Bill

Post by chew8 » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:47 pm

In my earlier post, I should have included the following extract from the 'Literacy Lift-Off' article, which is where the studies in question are mentioned:

'A sufficient body of evidence supports the effectiveness of Reading Recovery as an early literacy intervention programme (Briggs & Young, 2003; Brown, Denton, Kelly, & Neal, 1999; Center, Wheldall, Freeman, Outhred, & McNaught, 1995; Iverson & Tunmer, 1993; Pinnell, Lyons, De Ford, Bryk, & Seltzer, 1994; Quay, Steele, Johnson, & Hortman, 2001; Schmitt & Gregory, 2005; Schwartz, 2005). These Reading Recovery efficacy studies reported short- and longterm positive results. Reading Recovery can help reduce the gap between at-risk readers and their peers, while also reducing the number of students that need longterm literacy support (Center et al., 1995; Pinnell et al., 1994; Quay et al., 2001; Schwartz, 2005). Findings also indicate that many students experience continued success in literacy achievement after discontinuation from the programme (Briggs & Young, 2003; Brown et al., 1999; Pinnell et al., 1994).'

The Iversen and Tunmer study did find that results were better when the children were taught more about phonology, but the approach was onset-rime rather than synthetic phonics as supported by the RRF. It would be interesting to know whether any Reading Recovery studies have included genuine s.p.-type modifications.

Jenny C.

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