The Importance of Reading Intervention

Reading intervention provides individualized attention to students struggling to learn to read. This allows children to build reading skills at a pace that fits their abilities.

To become proficient readers, students must develop their phonological awareness, build decoding skills, understand the alphabetic principle, and increase their fluency with texts. In addition, students need to develop comprehension and vocabulary.


Phonics is the research-backed approach to reading instruction that teaches children how letters or groups of letters (graphemes) correspond with single sounds in words (phonemes). This knowledge allows children to decode written words, which leads to improved reading fluency and comprehension.

Studies of phonics-based interventions reveal that students who receive explicit instruction on how to connect phonemes and graphemes make better gains in word reading than do those receiving phonologically implicit or embedded instruction. These findings are consistent with the work of other researchers, including literacy expert Anita Archer, who explains how explicit instruction in phonics yields better outcomes than whole reading approaches.

To identify which students need phonics intervention, teachers can use earlyReading composite scores to determine a student’s reading level. Low scores on the letter sound or consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) word subtests indicate a need for explicit phonics instruction. Then, the teacher can implement a phonics intervention that teaches high-frequency short words. Children are then taught to read and practice blending and segmenting the phonemes in these words.


For students to read fluently, they must not only recognize words quickly but also be able to read them at a rate that is accurate and sounds like spoken language (appropriate intonation, volume, smoothness, phrasing). To build fluency, it is important to focus on both speed and prosody.

Reading to children and modeling how to pronounce words and pause for punctuation is an excellent way to improve fluency. Students can practice paired reading, where a student with strong fluency reads to a struggling partner and both listen for accuracy. Students can also practice Reader’s Theater, where they act out characters in scripted passages.

Research has shown that repeated reading (RR) is one of the most effective interventions for building oral fluency. Other strategies include phonological awareness activities, decoding practice, morphological awareness instruction (e.g., teaching prefixes, suffixes and base words), and identifying high frequency words.


Reading comprehension is a child’s ability to think and process what they read. They visualize a story, anticipate what will happen next, laugh at jokes, and make inferences based on the information they have read.

Comprehension instruction must be responsive, identifying pupils’ specific comprehension difficulties and providing appropriate and explicit instructional guidance to support their learning. This includes teaching strategies that focus on sequencing, main idea, and summarization. It also involves building morphological awareness by teaching pupils about prefixes, suffixes, and bases. This helps them to pull apart words that do not follow traditional patterns.

It is important to understand that comprehension skills are interlinked with other essential literacy skills such as decoding, vocabulary, and fluency. Students who struggle with one of these components may also struggle with comprehension, and a focus on improving a student’s word identification skills without addressing these other issues could further exacerbate their reading difficulties.


Vocabulary plays an important role in reading comprehension. In fact, research has shown that students with high vocabulary scores tend to have better comprehension skills. It is therefore critical to include vocabulary instruction in reading intervention.

Explicit, systematic, and meaningful vocabulary instruction should be taught using explicit instructional routines and a focus on both meaning and usage. Teach tricky words before, during, and after reading to build background knowledge and support comprehension. Using targeted classroom read-alouds can also help harvest vocabulary and model strategies for clarifying difficult words while reading.

Providing practice opportunities for new vocabulary can increase the likelihood that students will retain these words. Try having students discuss the meaning of the word with a partner, use it in a writing activity, and review previously-taught vocabulary terms. Research shows that it takes multiple encounters for students to learn a new vocabulary word. Choose Tier two words (words that are partially familiar to students but not fully understood) that are likely to appear in a variety of texts, as this allows for more frequent and consistent exposure.

The Importance of Reading Intervention
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