The 3 Keys to Successful Reading Intervention

According to a study performed by the NAEP, 32% of 4th graders were performing below “Basic” levels of reading, along with 24% of 8th graders and 28% of seniors in 2015. Thankfully, there are several powerful strategies educators can employ to provide accessible instruction to students of all proficiency levels.

The central focus of reading intervention should be both word recognition and reading comprehension. Besides the content taught during the intervention, educators need to be intentional with their instruction of students performing below grade-level. With this in mind, here are three top priorities teachers should have in mind when planning their reading intervention.

1. Make Reading Intervention a Priority

Teachers should have realistic expectations of student progress. If a student receives only a few 20-minute intervention sessions a week, the teacher cannot expect a significant improvement in their reading abilities. In fact, intervention needs to be a core focus of instruction and small group work – especially because poor performance in reading can impact other content areas such as social studies, science, writing, and even mathematics.

2. Increase Modeling and Guided Practice

Students who are performing below grade level in reading will benefit from the extensive modeling of reading strategies. Teachers may need to tell these students explicitly what they are learning and how to learn it – students shouldn’t have to guess what the learning objectives are. Therefore, educators and interventionists should dedicate time to modeling and guided practice. This guided practice should incorporate plenty of positive and corrective feedback from the teacher. If the student is not receiving this feedback, they are likely to continue repeating (and reinforcing) the skills that are holding them back from achieving mastery.

3. Collect Data

A strong intervention strategy must include data collection. Simply put, there is no other way for you or the student to know if they are making progress is unless there is evidence of improvement. Data collection can be as simple as crossing vocabulary or sight words off of a list or demonstrating a reading comprehension strategy through a short assessment. Furthermore, the teacher needs to use the data to inform intervention. For example, if after a semester of intervention, a student isn’t demonstrating progress, it may be a signal to re-assess the intervention strategy. Be sure to celebrate progress with the student as well, and use the data to allow them to take agency over their learning.

Intervention isn’t easy, and neither is bringing a student up to grade-level performance. Teachers, students, and parents should remember that any intervention strategy will take time and hard work to implement. However, by prioritizing intervention, direct instruction, and data collection, we can bring purpose to the reading instruction of students who need it the most.

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