Reading is a strategic process that takes place in a child's mind. It coordinates many strategies and visual information. Meaning is not in the words on the page. The reader must construct meaning by making inferences and interpretations. How well a reader constructs meaning depends in part on the reader's ability to think about (known as metacognition) and control the learning process. Reading researchers believe that information is stored in long term memory in organized knowledge structures. The basic nature of learning is linking new information to prior knowledge about the text. All though many students who are at-risk come to school lacking prior knowledge that is relevant to school achievement, teachers and schools do make a substantial difference by providing special programs such as Reading Recovery.
Today there is much concern that literacy levels are falling. Because there are extremely high numbers of seven year olds that are unable to read, it makes sense to identify these at-risk children and intervene at an early age (Center, Wheldall, & Freeman, 1992). The primary focus of the Reading Recovery Program is to provide one-to-one tutoring to first grade students who are in the lowest twenty percent of their class (Pinnell, DeFord, & Lyons, 1988). These children are then tutored for two and a half hours per week throughout the school year. When the child reaches the reading level of his or her classmates, the child is then discontinued from the Reading Recovery Program. If after sixty lessons, the child has not achieved the reading level of his or her classmates, the child is released from the Reading Recovery Program. The program's long term goal is to have children continue to progress through their regular classroom instruction and independent reading, after their intervention is discontinued. .
Reading Recovery was developed by Dr. Marie Clay in the 1960's. She conducted observational research which was the groundwork for the Reading Recovery Program.