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Dr. Stephen K. Appea, Principal
Dr. Rose B. English School – P.S./ I.S. 327

Brooklyn, New York

A few years ago, when I heard a presentation of research results for Reading Rescue, a one-on-one tutoring intervention, I knew that there were low performing children in our school who would benefit, in fact who would likely achieve grade level reading, if provided with the type of skilled instruction Reading Rescue training equips school staff members to provide.

We contacted Dr. Nora Hoover, the Reading Rescue program developer, and began the three-year training program for a cohort of teachers and paraprofessionals in our school.  Sustained staff development, of the type Reading Rescue provides, which is delivered on-site, is ideal.  But, Reading Rescue goes even further to assure a school’s success. Consultants work closely with the teacher who serves as the program’s coordinator, preparing him or her in Advanced Training Institutes as the in-house leader for the cohort of tutors within the school.  Site visits by consultants for observation of tutoring and on-going training also build capacity within a school and assure fidelity to the instructional model.

Reading Rescue’s impact goes beyond the individual students who are tutored, however; all the children taught by Rescue-trained staff benefit. The skills staff members develop in training, and apply in one-on-one tutorials as they successfully accelerate a difficult to teach child, carry over into their instruction with groups.

It’s especially worth noting that, with Reading Rescue, a number of paraprofessionals and teaching assistants can be trained to tutor at a far less per child cost than when one or two specially trained teachers are employed to tutor.  Reading Rescue is far more feasible and cost-effective than Reading Recovery, for instance.

Our first graders who are tutored enter second grade equipped with appropriate reading strategies for their grade level. They display confidence and a love of reading because of their success in this program. For all these reasons, Reading Rescue is a model I endorse and one well worth your support.

Yours Sincerely,
Stephen K. Appea
Stephen K. Appea, Ph.D

Anne Cohen, Principal
The Ronald McNair School, P.S./M.S. 147

Queens, NY

At P.S./M.S. 147Q we’re committed to providing the instruction that each students needs to become a fluent reader in the early grades.  Most can learn in a group but, for those who require skilled, one-on-one teaching to succeed, small groups are insufficient.  For many years, a Reading Recovery teacher has helped such children catch up to their average performing peers in one-on-one tutoring sessions.  However, a single teacher is unable to serve all the struggling readers in need of individual tutoring.  An alternative tutoring model, Reading Rescue, that serves more students, came to our attention three years ago and we are pleased with its results.  One big difference between Reading Recovery and Reading Rescue is the expense; the per head cost to train a staff member to deliver Reading Rescue tutoring is less and the ongoing per student expense is also considerably less particularly since, in our school, paraprofessionals provide most Reading Rescue tutoring.

Reading Rescue trains staff members in the use of strategies shown to be effective with learning disabled and dyslexic students.  In a Reading Rescue program, phonological awareness is more thoroughly assessed and more materials are provided for tutors’ use with students who have difficulty in that area.  Phonics is taught systematically, rather than incidentally, and comprehension is developed at the literal, inferential and evaluative levels.  Many enrolled in our school are language minority students and we are seeing results even for those children similar to ones reported in the American Educational Journal in a study documenting grade level achievement among second language learners in the New York City schools who were tutored by Reading Rescue trained paraprofessionals.

Overall, we’ve observed no differences in outcomes for low achieving students tutored by a Reading Recovery teacher versus those tutored by our Reading Rescue trained staff.  Our Rescue-trained teachers and paraprofessionals are tutoring a significant number of first graders each year during the regular school day as well as in the extended day program and, as a result, we are seeing a reduction in retentions and referrals for Special Education and are sending more students into second grade reading on grade level.  I’m happy to recommend Reading Rescue as an effective and, in this time of severe budget cuts, a feasible intensive intervention model for any school not yet providing tutoring for first graders who will fail to learn to read well without it.

Should you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Ms. Rosa Argelia Arredondo
PS 128 

New York, NY

PS 128, a large elementary school in Washington Heights serving a predominately high poverty population, in earlier years provided Reading Rescue tutoring for a number of first graders, over 90% of whom speak Spanish as their first language.  In 2006, however, no first graders were tutored and, despite overall improvements in instruction, the impact was so significant that we were compelled to reinstateReading Rescue, including the training of a new cohort of staff to work one-on-one with first graders who need that level of intervention to succeed.

The development of literacy in the first grade has always been of the highest priority in our school.  We know that students who fail to develop fluent reading in the first grade – for whatever reasons – usually do not catch-up in the later grades, despite their teachers’ best efforts.  Therefore, while we recognize that the achievement of grade-level reading in first and second grades does not guarantee a successful school career, the reverse is often the case.   The failure to read well in the beginning grades usually does result in continued academic failure and ultimate school dropout.

The allocation of additional resources to assure fluent reading for all first graders – including those who have the ability to learn to read but who will not succeed in a group – makes sense both in terms of the individual student’s welfare and from an economic stand-point.  Each time a child is retained for reading failure, there is an additional cost to the school.  In addition, retention greatly increases the chances of a student’s dropping out of school.  Extended remedial services in the middle grades are far less effective, and more costly, than early intervention, which prevents the development of a reading problem.

In order to meet the needs of its low performing first graders, PS 128 trained its first cohort of Reading Rescue tutors in 2001.  The group included certified teachers as well as paraprofessionals. An independent study conducted by leading researchers from the CUNY Graduate Center confirmed what was evident: the majority of students tutored achieved grade level reading within a semester.  The success of the program prompted the training of a second cohort of tutors.  In the second and third years of adoption, teachers in the second and third grades began to notice an increase in the number of students reading well in their classrooms and some former Reading Rescue students were among the best readers at those grade levels.

In 2004, PS 128 received a large Reading First grant aimed at the improvement of classroom reading instruction.  As with all federal grants, there were requirements related to personnel, staff development, etc.  Meeting these mandates reduced the resources available for Reading Rescue.  In addition, over the years since Reading Rescue was first implemented, turnover in staff resulted in a smaller cohort of trained tutors.  By 2005-2006, very few students were receiving Reading Rescue tutoring.

However, although far fewer students were being tutored, classroom teaching has improved as a result of the staff development provided though the Reading First Grant.  Not only that, but intervention has been provided for small groups using theVoyager program and using Trophies, the intervention component provided by the Reading First grant.

Therefore, in the spring of 2006, the hope and the expectation was that a record number of first graders would be prepared to move into second grade, even in the absence of Reading Rescue tutoring, given these other improvements that were not in place when Reading Rescue was first adopted.

Unfortunately, when our school’s Intervention Team met in the spring of 2006, that hope was proven false; there was a sharp increase in the number of students recommended for retention due to reading failure.  In fact, the number for retention had jumped back up to the level that predated the adoption of Reading Rescue.

Members of the Intervention Team agreed that the tutoring of first graders in years past had assured reading development for those students, resulting in fewer needing to be retained.  The decision was made, based on an analysis of the data, to train another cohort of staff to provide Reading Rescue tutoring in the coming years.  Sometimes, the impact of a program is most evident in its absence.  Such was the case with Reading Rescue in our school.  Without Reading Rescue, we saw a big jump in the number of first graders in need of retention.

When data are reported for literally hundreds of students at a particular grade level within a school – which is the case at large schools like PS128 – the success of a handful who make dramatic strides is masked and thus not apparent.  But, when the achievement of individual students is examined, the impact of a program likeReading Rescue –or, the lack of such a program – becomes evident. Increasingly, schools are being held accountable for the success of each and every student – and rightly so.  At PS 128, we have seen the impact Reading Rescue has on the students who need one-on-one teaching to succeed, and we look forward to an energetic reinstatement the program in our school.