A gift of nearly $3 million is being used to boost teacher training at the UW-Madison in a special, reading program.
But that program, Reading Recovery, has critics, who say it’s not worth the necessary investment.
Training at a new UW-Madison Reading Recovery Center will involve videotaping teachers, as they instruct young children, in a one-on-one process between student and teacher that costs more than group programs.
Student progress with Reading Recovery in the Madison School District and across the country has been questioned.
The center’s observation room will allow teachers from across Wisconsin and from other states to observe techniques as experienced teachers will instruct children behind one-way glass.
“It’s an investment, but I think it’s an investment that pays off in the long term,” said Center director Catherine Lilly. “Many children in Reading Recovery avoid being placed in special education.”
But UW-Madison Psychology professor Mark Seidenberg is skeptical. ” The evidence that it works better than programs that can be done in small groups is lacking.”
Seidenberg believes the new center will ciphon dollars from more proven, remedial reading approaches. “This program at the UW is going to train more Reading Recovery teachers. That means there will be more children that will be getting Reading Recovery,” said Seidenberg.
“Where’s the money coming from to pay for that? Answer: Other programs.”
But Lilly argued one-on-one instruction does have advantages over group settings, and claimed student outcomes in Reading Recovery are improving.
In many states, Reading Recovery is excluded from getting federal funds earmarked for remedial reading programs, because of questions about Reading Recovery’s effectiveness.
Reading Recovery involves first grade children with significant problems in reading and writing.
UW-Madison officials say Reading Recovery is used in approximately 300 Wisconsin schools.
From WKOW TV (Channel 27)on October 18, 2005