Reducing Special Education Referral and Placement: The Effects of Reading Recovery

Publication Date


Conference Title

American Psychological Association

Conference Location

Washington, D.C


Special education, Reading recovery, Literacy, Assessment, School psychology


This study examined the effect of Reading Recovery®, an early intervention program for first‐grade children, on the rates of referral and placement in special education in New York City. Study participants consisted of students who had a complete Reading Recovery (RR) program (RR‐discontinued and RR‐recommended) and a comparison group composed of children with literacy difficulties, who were initially performing at a slightly higher level than the Reading Recovery children. The results showed that children who received the Reading Recovery program were referred for testing and placed in special education at a statistically significant lower rate. Reading Recovery is associated with a 5% reduction in estimated referral rate and a 3% decrease in placement rate. Additionally, an examination of the classification labels of children placed in special education revealed that RR‐discontinued children were less likely to be classified as learning disabled than those in both the comparison group and the RR‐recommended group.



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