What is Reading Intervention?

Reading intervention is supplemental instruction for students who are behind their peers in developing critical reading skills. This type of instruction is typically part of a school’s RTI (Response to Intervention) or MTSS model.

Build phonological awareness by teaching syllables, sounds and vowels to struggling readers. Teach phonics by pairing fluent readers with less fluent ones to practice the correct sound-symbol correspondence.


Phonics instruction helps students learn to recognize and decode letters and their sounds so they can read words and sentences. Research shows that systematic phonics instruction significantly improves reading skills in kindergarten and first grade.

It’s important to remember that phonics instruction is not a standalone program and that it needs to be combined with other types of instruction to support student success. Studies have shown that teaching phonics without incorporating strategies for phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension skills, and fluency can confuse rather than help students.

Picture Card Sort is a great way to begin implementing phonics intervention, allowing students to practice their letter-sound knowledge until they can demonstrate 95% accuracy or higher. When students are ready for a more specialized strategy, try using Letter Sound Bingo 3 or 4 days per week to focus on segmenting and blending consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words with short vowels like cat, cut, cot, set, and sit.


Many research studies have found that Repeated Reading (RR) is a highly effective fluency intervention for students with reading difficulties and disabilities. RR is most effective when it includes passage previews and goal setting, and is implemented in conjunction with other interventions that focus on vocabulary and comprehension.

Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading, and is what enables us to make sense of the words we read. Children who struggle with comprehension are often those that are able to decode words, but who cannot understand what they have read. They may skip words or omit them when reading aloud. They might stop reading when they don’t understand the meaning.

Building comprehension skills requires work on phonics, fluency and comprehension strategies. In particular, we must teach students to pull apart and define words that follow traditional patterns, build morphological awareness of prefixes, suffixes, and bases, and practice reading chorally to understand how a word sounds.


Ultimately, children must be able to understand what they read. This is called comprehension and is the big payoff of reading intervention. Strong comprehension can boost learning in all subjects, make reading enjoyable and turn students into lifelong readers.

Reading comprehension is a complex cognitive process that involves the intentional interaction between reader and text to extract meaning. Comprehension requires a range of skills including the ability to link word meanings with the word symbols, the ability to identify important details and logically infer their significance, and the ability to use figurative language (e.g., metaphors and similes).

Reading comprehension can be taught directly to students through direct instruction and practice activities that include reading aloud, partner reading, literature discussions, and individual student writing about their understanding of texts. It is recommended that teachers provide comprehension instruction in addition to teaching phonics, fluency, and vocabulary. Several studies show that interventions that focus on multiple components of reading improve comprehension.


Vocabulary refers to the set of words a person recognizes when reading or listening. Vocabulary includes both expressive and receptive vocabulary, and is one of the largest contributors to reading comprehension skills.

Research suggests that students who have a wide and varied vocabulary perform better on reading comprehension tests than students with a narrow and limited vocabulary. This is because a broad vocabulary helps readers make sense of unfamiliar words and concepts.

A recent study found that a vocabulary intervention significantly improved text comprehension of texts containing taught words. However, the amount of vocabulary knowledge gained from the intervention did not predict the effect on comprehension. Vocabulary instruction should include methods to teach students how to recognize words in context. This can be done through a variety of vocabulary strategies, including making word lists and utilizing a Find-Learn-Practice-Review strategy like the one in Moby Vocabulary.

What is Reading Intervention?
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