Students in Richardson schools who have difficulty
reading will go through a new program that district officials
developed this summer.
The program, which uses state reading standards to
help determine who takes part, replaces Reading Recovery, which the
district has used for about 12 years.
"We have, through the years, seen good results from
Reading Recovery," said Gaitha Castleman, the district's director of
language and literacy. "But over the past couple of years, we've had
some challenges with the number of children considered at-risk
increasing and our budget getting tighter."
Reading Recovery focused on first-graders with
reading problems using one-on-one instruction and individualized
tutoring. Richardson's new program will target similar skills –
including alphabetic principles, phonic recognition, fluency,
vocabulary and comprehension – but will teach groups of four to six
students at a time. Also, the program will be used in kindergarten
through third grade.
Ms. Castleman said a campus reading specialist will
be able to work with up to eight groups of four to six students daily,
instead of fewer than 10 students a day.
Richardson joins the Plano school district in
reducing or eliminating Reading Recovery because of budget
constraints. In Plano, principals can replace Reading Recovery
voluntarily this year and will be required to change programs in 2003.
Plano officials said they are trying to move away
from programs that take students out of their regular classrooms to
work with instructors alone or in small groups. Literacy specialists
will work with classroom teachers to help students who are struggling
They will also conduct professional development
workshops and implement programs for students who have dyslexia.
Debbie Murphy, a Richardson district reading
specialist, said the new program will give Richardson teachers a
stronger tool to help struggling readers catch up to their peers
before it becomes a problem for their education.
"It's just good teaching," Ms. Murphy said. "We've
been working hard in the Richardson district to come up with a
consistent reading philosophy, and this goes along with that. I think
it'll be a very strong program for us."
Reading Recovery is an international program
developed in New Zealand in the mid-1970s. It is used in schools in 49
states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the United Kingdom and
Australia. Teachers who use Reading Recovery attend regular
conferences to stay current with the program.
Several school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth
area use the program, including Carroll and Grand Prairie. Earlier
this year, Carroll officials looked into reducing the scope of the
program to cut costs but decided against the changes.
Mary Jane Demos, a Reading Recovery teacher in the
Grand Prairie district, said it's one of the best reading programs
she's worked with. The district is in its 11th year of using Reading
"What I've learned using Reading Recovery is, it's
going to enhance the child's learning," Ms. Demos said. "We're always
going back to the question: How can we do better to help the
Richardson officials said they will track students'
progress continuously, which will help them determine the success of
the new program.
"We've got ongoing monitoring of all the students in
the program," Ms. Murphy said. "We'll follow the kids to determine
what they need and how, if at all, we need to make small changes to
This story also appears in the
Richardson Morning News.