The Importance of Reading Intervention

Reading intervention is a process that helps students who are struggling with reading to progress quickly through the essential skills. These essential skills include phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency.

The inquiry found that most school boards offer interventions, but they vary in how they deliver them, their eligibility criteria and whether or not they include all the key skills needed to develop foundational word-reading accuracy and fluency.

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments provide a rich source of information to inform reading instruction. They empower teachers to understand students’ learning needs and adjust their instructional strategies, according to Voyager Sopris.

Formative assessment focuses on evaluating student understanding often (daily), in real time so misconceptions can be unveiled and remediation implemented immediately. This is a very different approach from summative, or outcome, assessment, which is typically a standardized test of student achievement or proficiency.

The results of this study indicate that, even with a relatively small sample size (n = 250), formative assessment makes a modest, positive difference in enhancing student reading performance. It also indicates that, when other features are controlled for, the integration of teacher-directed and student-directed formative assessment is more effective than either type of formative assessment in isolation.

Diagnostic Assessments

Effective assessments clarify what students need to learn, elicit evidence of their learning and interpret the meaning of test scores. They are designed to identify skill gaps and guide instruction that is matched to student needs.

Reading ability doesn’t reduce to a single score as many screening tools and benchmark tests assume; instead, it is a complex set of skills: comprehension strategies, vocabulary, sight word recognition, phonics and fluency. Using formal diagnostic tools (like the ones included on our approved Early Literacy Diagnostic List) provides more accurate information about a student’s reading abilities.

These tools provide information at a very specific level and often include a benchmark cut score, which is determined by research that indicates the score that children must meet to have an 80 – 90% probability of meeting future goals. They also provide ongoing progress monitoring data and generate dynamic reports for classroom teachers.

Instructional Strategies

Students with reading comprehension problems often have underlying issues with foundational literacy skills. These students may need to be exposed to an evidence-based scope and sequence that systematically introduces each phonics skill progressing from the simplest to the more complex using controlled text.

Students may need to receive a more intensive program of instruction in Tier 2 to accelerate their skills and improve their performance. This will usually involve a more explicit teaching of foundational skills such as sound-letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, phonics instruction and metacognitive strategy instruction (identifying and applying strategies to read words).

Students also need to be encouraged to keep trying by being given frequent opportunities for small successes. This will help build their confidence and motivation to continue to try even when they face challenges.


Teaching students reading intervention skills using multisensory activities can help them feel confident and capable. In addition to incorporating auditory, visual, and tactile elements, try to incorporate rhythm and repetition in your lessons. For example, rhyming patterns can work well for auditory learners. Pat the board and say a word like “b”, then students can clap-clap it together to form the pattern.

For visual learners, use color codes to represent specific phonics patterns. For example, pink could be consonants and blue could be vowels or /b/,/s/,/d/,/m/,/n/, etc. Using a pattern can also work well for visual learners; have students pat the board and then say the same word each time, then repeat.

The Department is developing a process for establishing an approved list of high-quality core curriculum, instructional materials and interventions that align with the science of reading. Learn more about this process here.


Homework is one of the most powerful tools for improving reading. It can be used to build proficiency in newly acquired skills or to maintain skills previously mastered. Homework should be meaningful practice work that is accompanied by evaluation and feedback to students.

Using a variety of strategies to ensure that all students receive valuable feedback will increase student motivation. Students who do not receive feedback often assume that their assignments are worthless. They may have toiling done and then turn it in only to find out that their work will not be graded.

Emphasize that the benefits of regular reading are wide-ranging and can be applied to learning in all subjects. Providing meaningful and engaging homework will help students be ready for the demands of a complex, literacy-focused world far beyond school.

The Importance of Reading Intervention
Scroll to top