What Is Reading Intervention?

Reading intervention is intensive instruction that aims to help students read below grade level. It can include phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension instruction.

Boards need clear decision rules on who gets an intervention program, including standardized scores or percentiles on reading assessments and not vague criteria such as being significantly below grade level. They also need to understand how to assess programs for their effectiveness.

Targeted Instruction

Rather than treating everyone the same, students receive targeted instruction based on the specific skills they need. This is done by assessing the performance of individual students using various assessments, then catering their reading intervention program to fit those needs.

Classroom teachers are trained to implement the evidence-based tier 2 reading intervention called Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI). Initially one-on-one and then moving to small groups, daily 15-minute TRI lessons focus on developing phonemic awareness, phonics knowledge, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and early reading comprehension. TRI has been endorsed by The Annie E. Casey Foundation Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, The Rand Corporation Promising Practices Network and is included in the What Works Clearinghouse.

Schools seeking to implement and sustain individualized and group reading interventions should explore funding sources like state administered Race to the Top grants, rural supplements, special education and RTI. Discretionary grants from local and national foundations such as the Crane and the Kellogg Foundation may also be available.

Supporting Individuals

Educators need thorough training and ongoing coaching on how to use the program, and on the research that supports it. Many inquiry schools reported that educators are not always provided with this support.

The survey found that school boards need clear decision rules for selecting and prioritizing students to enter reading intervention programs. These should include standardized scores (e.g., one standard deviation or more below the mean on a word recognition or decoding test) and percentiles on reading measures.

Educators need to have access to a full range of interventions that are effective for all students in Grades 2 and up. These include programs that teach sound-letter mapping, decoding skills, and phonics knowledge, including the ability to recognize frequent morphemes and syllable patterns. These programs also teach reading fluency and comprehension. Computer-based interventions such as Lexia Core 5(r) Reading work best in a tiered framework, beginning with whole classroom implementation in Kindergarten to Grade 1 and then providing additional intensive interventions for those who continue to struggle in tier 2. These programs provide evidence-based foundational skills instruction that prevents students from developing reading difficulties/disabilities.

Monitoring Progress

For example, some boards use in-house intervention approaches that bring students into a program working with a teacher or speech-language pathologist for a specified time. These programs focus on phonological awareness, letter-sound teaching, and building sentences. They may also address oral language skills such as grammatical correctness and the use of capital letters.

These programs are important and can provide significant gains for some students. However, they don’t allow for comparison with a control group to judge whether the students have been brought into the average range on measures of reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension.

Progress monitoring measures help educators make these comparisons and determine if an intervention is effective. Progress monitoring tools can measure a student’s performance on a set of passages, and provide the number of words correctly read per minute (WCPM). For example, the MAP Reading Fluency tool provides efficient automatically scored progress monitoring in oral reading fluency. It is often used in conjunction with a CBM-R to evaluate whether a reading intervention is producing desired results.

Adapting Instruction

Adaptation in reading includes changing how a student will learn or demonstrate knowledge, not changing the subject matter or curriculum. For example, an adaptation might involve allowing a student with dysgraphia to present a written assignment verbally instead of on paper.

The inquiry found that students have varying access to evidence-based tier 3 programs (programs focusing on grapheme-phoneme correspondences, blending and segmenting phonemes, and decoding words). Currently, many boards limit the availability of these programs to Grade 2 or higher, when they will be most effective.

The Ministry needs to ensure that teachers have training on the use of effective interventions and how to best implement them. Also, school boards should not use standardized test scores or a certain number of years below grade level as a threshold for intervention eligibility; these thresholds are often based on measurement errors and are inconsistently applied across schools. This creates a “wait to fail” system for some students.

What Is Reading Intervention?
Scroll to top