Ralph Tabberer and Greg Brooks use Reading Recovery to make two points in their argument for national monitoring of reading standards (TES, December 8).
First, they suggest that national monitoring would show whether the fall in reading standards has been reversed by the national curriculum, with the implication that if it were, then Reading Recovery would not be needed. Reading Recovery is designed to meet the needs of the lowest children in the class, whatever the overall level achieved, and even in excellent classroom programmes with the best of teachers, there are always some children who, for whatever reason, find early literacy learning difficult. Certainly it is not our present experience that Reading Recovery is not needed: far from it. Schools are desperate to maintain the programme places they are able to offer and in many cases would like to offer more.
On the other hand, say Tabberer and Brooks, if the downward trend in reading is continuing, then Reading Recovery should be compared, both for effectiveness and cost, with other programmes designed to help the failing reader. I am delighted to inform the two gentlemen that Reading Recovery has indeed been evaluated in those very terms, by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority and found not only to be effective, but also the most cost-effective intervention in the long term.
JULIA DOUETIL ANGELA HOBSBAUM JEAN PRANCE
Reading Recovery National Network Institute of Education University of London 20 Bedford Way London WC1