The Importance of Reading Intervention in RTI and MTSS Frameworks

Reading intervention is a key component of RTI/MTSS frameworks. Inquiry boards use various assessments and criteria to determine students who will receive intervention, including standardized word-reading accuracy and fluency measures.

To be effective, early interventions must focus on explicit and systematic instruction of grapheme-phoneme correspondences, blending and segmenting parts of phonemic awareness and decoding skills. They must also incorporate teaching morphology and syllable structures.

Targeted Instruction

Students experiencing reading difficulties need more intensive instruction than what is normally available in their classrooms. They may need to learn basic reading skills (such as recognizing upper and lowercase letters, or correlating pictures with print) or foundational reading strategies, including sound-letter connections, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies.

To be effective, these reading interventions need to be provided one-on-one by teachers who know how to implement them. This is why many inquiry schools report that they want guidance from the Ministry about which evidence-based programs to use, which will help to reduce costs based on economies of scale.

Board-developed intervention approaches typically involve students who scored low on a screening test working with a teacher or speech language pathologist in a small group for a defined period of time. Such interventions often focus on phonological awareness and sometimes include letter-sound teaching, but are not proven to prevent future word-reading difficulties for students who struggle.

Repeated Reading

When kids read a passage over and over, they begin to recognize the words and develop fluency. This is one of the most important reading skills that kids need to become proficient.

Studies involving repeated oral reading have shown that it improves the fluency of kids with below-average reading abilities (NICHD, 2000). Oftentimes, these studies focused on a special group of kids who had average phonics skills but low reading ability; however, other times they included all students in regular classrooms and showed the same results.

Timed repeated reading involves having students reread a text for 1 minute and then counting how many words they read correctly in that time. This is a great assessment and allows teachers to see a student’s growth over time. This strategy can also be used with choral or echo reading as well as one-to-one conferences. The best part about this is that it does not require any additional resources outside of those already in a classroom.

Guided Oral Reading

Reading aloud allows students to hear their own words read with proper pacing, intonation and expression. This increases their phonological awareness and improves their ability to comprehend the content of the story.

Guided oral reading, also called repeated reading and guided practice, is an evidence-based strategy for improving a variety of literacy skills, including fluency. It involves a teacher, parent or guardian reading passages with students and providing support and feedback as they read. It builds students’ reading stamina especially with longer texts or books and improves their decoding skills.

It is based on the notion that optimal learning occurs when a student is challenged to learn things that they can successfully attempt at their current level of development with the help of an expert “other” (Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development). This guidance, or scaffolding, assists them in developing strategies that assist in decoding and construct meaning.

Oral Language Development

Oral language development is an essential component of reading intervention for students with DLD. In a symbiotic relationship, language skills provide the foundation for decoding words for print comprehension. Oral language activities based on narratives can also foster the development of syntactic rules and vocabulary that supports reading.

Most inquiry boards report offering a range of evidence-based oral language strategies in their literacy curriculum, including repeated reading, guided oral reading and teaching language for discussing books. While these strategies are useful, they are not enough for students with DLD to develop word reading skills independently.

Students with DLD need highly targeted, intensive word-reading interventions in addition to addressing any oral language weaknesses. Many of the intervention programs reported by the inquiry boards are for older students, with Hamilton-Wentworth and Simcoe Muskoka Catholic providing Empower(tm) in Grade 2 and London Catholic delivering Reading Mastery(tm) in Grade 2. These programs address foundational word reading skills such as grapheme-phoneme mapping, phonemic awareness and blending and segmenting sounds in words, as well as phonics instruction and morphology and syllable patterns.

The Importance of Reading Intervention in RTI and MTSS Frameworks
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