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We will continue to evaluate literacy initiatives

In response to the letter written by Alan Davies "Reading Recovery supremacy challenged" (TES, January 19) I would like to make the following points.

The evaluation of the Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Sequence project (THRASS) was published by Sheffield education authority and not, as stated by Mr Davies, by the Reading Recovery team. The evaluation was undertaken by myself, as a member of the LEA's learning difficulties support team, currently seconded as a Reading Recovery tutor. It was never the intention of the evaluation project to make cost comparisons between THRASS and Reading Recovery or any other approach. True judgments about cost effectiveness can only be made when the long-term effects on child progress have been studied. Indeed, there is a plethora of research that demonstrates that many programmes are able to produce short term educational gains which subsequently suffer "wash out" effects when the intervention ceases. Research shows that gains made by Reading Recovery children are maintained in the long term. No such data is available for THRASS.

I feel it was unfortunate that Mr Davies failed to identify himself as the author of THRASS in his letter, and therefore, omit to declare his vested interests in the programme. In his letter he also makes reference to an article appearing in Language and Learning (December 1995) where the cost of Reading Recovery is compared to THRASS. I can only assume that these figures were his own as he is the undeclared author of the article referred to.

Sheffield education authority will continue to evaluate initiatives and will seek to support methods which it feels are appropriate for its pupil population, taking into consideration the cost effectiveness over the long term.

MIKE JOHNSON Northbank Curriculum Professional Development Centre Sheffield

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