IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


IOE evaluation shows the impact of Reading Recovery on the phonics screening check

5 December 2018

The Reading Recovery programme is helping more children reach the expected standard in phonics aged 5-6, new UCL Institute of Education (IOE) research suggests.

Small boy reading book

Since the phonics screening check inception in 2012, a significant number of pupils have struggled to meet the expected standard at the end of Year 1. In 2018 18% of pupils did not meet this standard.

As Reading Recovery targets the lowest attaining pupils, researchers at the IOE decided to explore the impact Reading Recovery might have on this group’s attainment in the phonics screening test.

In an analysis of over 6000 pupils who had taken part in Reading Recovery from 2015-2017, the research found that 75% of children who had already completed the Reading Recovery programme passed the Year 1 phonics screening check (PSC), compared to 45% of children who were part way through Reading Recovery and only 19% of those who took the PSC before they entered the Reading Recovery programme.

The researchers found a positive relationship between starting Reading Recovery earlier and performance on the PSC, after controlling for initial reading level on the British Ability Scales.  

Professor Gemma Moss, Director of the UCL, Institute of Education International Literacy Centre, said:  “This is yet further evidence that Reading Recovery can help the lowest attaining pupils to develop their word attack skills successfully.  This is an important milestone on the road to becoming a reader.
“Reading Recovery remains committed to helping all those pupils who struggle the most with learning to read.”

About the Reading Recovery programme

The Reading Recovery programme is an accredited school-based literacy intervention for six year olds who are the lowest attaining in reading and writing. The intervention’s goal is to enable these pupils to catch up with their classroom peers and reach age-expected levels within 20 weeks.

An analysis of the performance of Reading Recovery students on the phonics screening check was presented as a poster at the 25th Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading, Brighton, UK.

The team hopes to undertake further research to clarify some of the elements of the evaluation.  

Media contact

Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations 
T: +44 (0) 20 3108 8515 / +44 (0) 7769 141006
E: rowan.walker@ucl.ac.uk