Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

George McCloskey, Ph.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Rosemary Mennuti, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Barbara B. Williams, Ph.D.


The purpose of this longitudinal study was to profile Reading Recovery students in one district to examine: (1) the content and predictability of the district’s early intervention screening assessments and progress monitoring tools, (2) the initial and (3) sustained effectiveness of the Reading Recovery preventative program relative to student achievement in first through third grades (4) rates of identification of educational disabilities and special education placements and (5) common variables in intellectual, process, and achievement characteristics of those students who were slow to respond to reading interventions. Participants consisted of students from fifteen elementary schools, within the years 2000 to 2005 in a predominantly middle class, suburban school district in southeastern Pennsylvania. The 299 participants formed two groups: (1) a Reading Recovery Intervention group, consisting of three subgroups (RR-SD, RR-ND, and RR-I) and (2) a Non-Reading Recovery Comparison Group (Basic). All participants were identified in the fall of their first grade year as being at-risk for reading failure, performing, within the lowest 20% on literacy tasks. Prior to intervention, the RR-ND group demonstrated the weakest performance on kindergarten literacy tasks, K report card ratings, and fall of first grade DRA assessment. Following intervention, students within the Basic group and RR-SD group appeared to close the reading achievement gap and were able to sustain a basic level of reading proficiency through third grade. Students within the RR-ND and RR-I groups, who remained in the general education setting, continued to lag substantially behind their peers in word reading and text reading skills from first through third grade. Rates were high in the identification and placement into special education programming across intervention groups, where nearly half of the students within the sample were identified and eligible for special education programming, with over 75% of the students within the RR-ND group, and well over half of the RR-I group, requiring special education services. Of those identified for special education, at least 75% of the students across intervention groups exhibited at least average verbal reasoning abilities, yet demonstrated substantial deficits in word reading, reading comprehension, phonological decoding, and spelling skills. In addition, 25%-45% of the students across intervention groups demonstrated some evidence of process deficits. Following special education intervention, growth in orthographic coding and phonological decoding skills as well as in text reading skills were evident for students across intervention groups, including students in both the RR-ND and RR-I groups. Results of the current study suggest that the first grade RR early intervention program appeared to promote reading achievement growth in some students (i.e., the RR-SD group); however, students who did not successfully meet first grade Reading Recovery benchmarks (RR-ND) and students who received an Incomplete Reading Recovery program (RR-I) faired substantially less well on reading achievement tasks throughout first through third grades. The results are consistent with Stanovich’s (1986) “Matthew effects,” suggesting children who did not reach average reading levels in first grade, did not close the literacy achievement gap in later grades.