What Is Reading Intervention?

Reading intervention

Reading intervention is intensive or targeted instruction to accelerate the reading skills of students who are below grade level. It is typically part of Tier 2 or 3 of the RTI model.

Teachers decide who needs to participate in reading intervention based on a variety of assessment results, including standardized tests, district local assessments and classroom performance.

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and work with the individual sounds in words. It is an essential precursor to reading and spelling. Students who don’t have well developed phonological awareness skills are at risk for poor reading development and even dyslexia.

Children who are able to recognize syllables and individual sounds are ready to move on to the next level of phonological awareness, which is blending, segmenting, and substitution. By the age of six, a child’s phonological awareness is a strong predictor of their future reading skills (Good, Simmons and Kame’enui, 2001; Torgesen, 1998).

A great way to assess a student’s phonological awareness is to have them say a word like “burrito” and hop for each syllable. This is a quick and easy small group activity that can be used in conjunction with other reading intervention strategies. For more phonological awareness activities check out my phonemic awareness intervention binder. It has tons of visuals that can be done in centers or with your students individually.


Many students with language impairment (LI) have less extensive vocabulary knowledge than their typical peers. This can lead to difficulties when reading and may also exacerbate existing differences in comprehension skills. Explicit instruction in word meanings can help students to acquire and retain knowledge of words for use in a range of contexts.

To be effective, vocabulary instruction should target words that are unfamiliar to students, critical to understanding a text and likely to appear in multiple contexts. Incorporating these ‘Tier 2’ academic vocabulary words into interventions provides more contextual opportunities than teaching basic or domain-specific vocabulary words (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2004).

Research has shown that it is most effective to teach word meanings through associating them with related words. For example, using visuals to identify the common features of words like summit, crevasse and glacier can facilitate learning. It is also helpful to teach students to recognize word parts (prefixes and suffixes) in the context of a sentence, as well as to consider a variety of synonyms and antonyms of new vocabulary words.


Reading comprehension is the ability to understand and interpret written text. Children who comprehend can visualize a story, anticipate what will happen next, laugh at a joke, and make inferences from the text. To comprehend, children must use background knowledge and schema (information based on previous experiences) to construct meaning from the text.

Comprehension is different from word identification, which yields a fairly exact outcome (the student either read the word “automobile” or did not). Students who struggle with comprehension can identify words accurately but have difficulty suppressing irrelevant information while deriving answers to questions about the text.

Intensive reading intervention takes place in small groups and is designed to target and teach specific strategies that increase students’ comprehension abilities. These strategies are generally taught through a combination of instructional activities (e.g., a silent sustained reading activity followed by a comprehension worksheet, comprehension strategy instruction using a particular example of connected text, and interactive teacher read alouds during which the teacher models various comprehension strategies). A key component of any group reading intervention program is ongoing monitoring and progress reporting.


Fluency is an important factor in reading comprehension. Students who lack reading fluency struggle to comprehend complex topics and may feel that reading is a difficult task, resulting in low motivation. This often leads to the student falling behind in academic environments and society.

Developing fluency is a dynamic process and requires consistent practice and immersion in the reading community. Explicit instructional strategies like echo and choral reading with a fluent adult model, phrase drill EC and using a story map for text analysis are effective ways to improve rates of familiar passages.

Many studies show that Repeated Reading (RR) is an effective intervention for improving oral reading fluency for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. RR is most effective when combined with reading aloud and comprehension instruction. Other interventions, such as paired-student RR and listening passage previews, also improved oral reading fluency rates; however, they were less effective than RR.

What Is Reading Intervention?
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