Reading Intervention – How to Get the Most Out of Your Reading Intervention

Reading intervention

Most school boards use unreliable and invalid assessments to determine which students should receive reading intervention. Those who score low on the assessment are placed in programs that don’t provide strong evidence-based foundational skills instruction.

These programs often include Lexia Core 5 and Wilson Language Training, both of which are tier 2 interventions. They instruct students in the five critical strands of reading instruction (phonics, decoding, word recognition and spelling, fluency and comprehension).


Phonics involves students learning the relationship between sounds (phonemes) and written spelling patterns, or graphemes. Students then use this knowledge to decode new words and spell words, which is known as segmenting and blending.

These skills are foundational in reading, as they allow children to access text and make meaning. Without phonics skills, struggling readers are often limited in the amount of new text they can read independently.

The inquiry boards’ most frequent early interventions often do not include explicit instruction in phonics, but rather focus on strategies that promote student independence (meaning clues, structural clues and visual cues). This can lead to frustration for students who are unable to read beyond their current skill level. For this reason, it is important that the appropriate phonics program be available for use in the earliest grades (Kindergarten – Grade 1 ideally) and be used as the core of Reading intervention programs. Fortunately, there are several evidence-based phonics programs available in Ontario.

Word Recognition

When children read, they use their knowledge of word structure and phonology to decode words. But to really read for meaning, they must recognize the words and apply meaning to them. This requires automatic word recognition.

One of the ways to improve word recognition is to teach kids sight recognition of common, high-frequency words. This helps them to recognize these words quickly when they come across them in a text without having to sound them out or look for clues from the surrounding words and sentences.

Another way to improve word recognition is to teach them strategies for recognizing words with similar initial sounds, such as rhymes or homonyms. These are known as sound-letter correspondences and they help the reader to match up the individual letters in a new word with familiar ones already stored in memory. The size of a word’s neighborhood in the lexicon, or how close it is to other words with similar initial sounds or phonetic segments, also influences word recognition.


As students progress through school, their reading skills need to be further refined and consolidated. This is where Fluency comes in. Fluency is a dynamic process that requires regular practice, immersion and engagement.

This board-developed intervention approach involves students who score low on a screening test working with a teacher, speech-language pathologist (SLP) or other educator for a set period of time. Typically, it includes explicit instruction and focused practice of core phonics skills to develop word reading accuracy.

This reading fluency intervention is designed for students with an accuracy need related to reading paragraphs and stories. It uses a combination of Sight Word Flashcards and Sight Word Bingo to increase the number of correctly read sight words in connected text.


Comprehension is a reading skill that encourages students to extract the meaning from a text. It’s a key component of the National Curriculum, and helps to prevent children from “passive reading” where they read words on a page without thinking about their meaning.

Using read-alouds, teachers can model comprehension strategies such as questioning and making connections. These skills can be taught as part of a whole-class approach, or more individually through interventions such as a one-to-one session with a teacher or speech-language pathologist.

The key to improving comprehension is repeated exposure to texts and teaching students how to use reading strategies to build knowledge from text. Strategies can include questioning, visualizing, monitoring and clarifying, inferring, and identifying important details. When teaching comprehension, be sure to choose texts appropriate for a student’s grade level and provide them with opportunities to build understanding of those texts through before-, during- and after-reading activities.

Reading Intervention – How to Get the Most Out of Your Reading Intervention
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