I have discontinued students from Reading Recovery (RR) in schools or districts where it was ideal for students and where it was the absolute pits, just terrible.

As a Reading Recovery teacher, there is such an investment of the hours, heart, mind, soul, and individual attention to creating precise lessons:

There is the constant questioning, what is the best and precise prompt right now?  

She knows that word almost entirely, I have to prompt for the last letter… right now!  

He read that and self-corrected that structure – what a language genius!  

I will have to teach more structure to this student who is still acquiring English Language structures (and she is a native English speaker!)  

Which prompt will work for writing today, (he is really in need of some sentences that are longer than five words)?  

That word will be great for word work – I have to grab those letters from the box!  And on and on it goes…

And on and on it goes…

Discontinuing is a joyful time that can be clouded with angst, in the wrong environment.  Clay, I’m sure, intended for the ideal.  Therefore, I suggest you do your best to make it ideal. This will require leadership, advocacy, and perseverance.

What will happen next to this student I have so carefully crafted a daily lesson for over the last 12, 15, or 20 weeks?

…this student that challenged me every day to teach effectively, efficiently (within 30 minutes), and individually…

How will I know this student will continue to shine and develop skills in literacy?

This student came to me an inactive participant and became active in lessons, how will this student be supported in continuing to be an active participant?

How will this student do, without the daily lessons of RR which are solely for her/him?

How will they do, gulp, without me?

Discontinuing a student means, noting progress over time, seeing the gains daily, weekly, and monthly. Because we as Reading Recovery teachers know teaching from strengths serves students in progress far better than standardized tests which slap a level or a label on students indicating an empty hole to which dirt is poured in.

I worked in a district where Reading Recovery was as intricate to the fabric of education as literacy in the classroom, math, teacher collaboration, and childhood social and emotional development. Here is the ideal looked like:


  • Discontinuing on the horizon: RR teacher has already been in weekly talks with the classroom teacher, who has already observed an RR lesson. The RR teacher has already been in the student’s class several times to observe the range in the class to which RR student is headed for independence.  Parent is contacted.
  • Meetings: regular meetings which were already in place the moment RR commences now become focused on self-extending system and discussion for discontinuing.
  • Discontinuing assessment: RR teacher and classroom teacher discuss results and make a decision. If a student is discontinuing and still needs support there is another safety net in place: a small group of four students with another reading/literacy specialist. For students ready to soar on their own, no small group, at this time. Guided Reading (GR) is executed well in the classroom. The classroom teacher has had superb training and on-going planning with colleagues and RR teachers to optimize GR lessons.

What are your ideal environments for discontinuing?

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