7 Must Haves for Research Based Reading Intervention

There are 7 things research tells us that reading intervention must include in order to be effective. Keep reading to learn more.

If you’re anything like us…which you are, because you’re here, you care about providing top notch intervention or instruction for your students. However, with all the differing opinions out there in the field of education it can be difficult to know if what you’re doing is the right thing.

What even is the right thing?!

So many programs and approaches claim to be research-based but when you actually go digging to find the research on these approaches it’s just not there.

So today we wanted to give you some actionable steps to research-based reading intervention that supports reading development for all readers!


Instruction must be systematic…

it needs to follow a well-designed order of patterns working from least difficult to most difficult, hitting on the five core components of literacy.

The Colorado Department of Education had the following helpful analogy around systematic instruction. “A carefully planned sequence for instruction, similar to a builder’s blueprint for a house characterizes systematic instruction. A blueprint is carefully thought out and designed before building materials are gathered and construction begins. As stated by Adams (2001, p. 74) the goal of systematic instruction is one of maximizing the likelihood that whenever children are asked to learn something new, they already possess the appropriate prior knowledge and understandings to see its value and to learn it efficiently. The plan for instruction that is systematic is carefully thought out, builds upon prior learning, is strategic building from simple to complex, and is designed before activities and lessons are planned. Instruction is across the five components (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension”.

Read more here: Elements comprising the Colorado Literacy Framework: IV. Purposeful, direct, explicit, and systematic instruction (2017).


Instruction should be multisensory…

It is important to recognize that this means instruction should target auditory (what we hear), visual (what we see), and kinesthetic (what we can touch/feel) components and that these senses should be targeted at the same time. This does not mean that all instruction needs to be tactile to be effective. There has been a great deal of research that provides support for providing a multisensory approach in our teaching. Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, is a great resource that provides practical tips and application on using the multisensory approach in your instruction.


We need to apply the skills we are teaching in isolation to connected text…

In order for students to begin to generalize their learning and knowledge, we need to be applying knowledge at higher levels. This article from Educational Leadership brings into question the efficacy of phonemic awareness and phonics instruction for upper elementary, middle school, and high school level readers. And with good reason, how effective these phonics-based programs are for these readers has not been well established. The biggest reason is because too often we are targeting phonemic awareness and phonics instruction as a stand alone solution, this just DOES NOT work for many students, especially our older students. So what we need to do is make sure we are applying and connecting the concepts to real reading and real writing, these contrived passages we see all too often aren’t doing anyone (especially our older readers) any good.


We need to analyze the term “research-based”…

Research-based for what? All too often I hear administrators falling back on the claim that the programs they are using in their school’s intervention are “research-based” but that term is broad and can be ambiguous. Is it research-based for phonological awareness? Phonics? Language development? Fluency? Comprehension? Does the aspect of the program that is “research-based” match the needs of our students? For example, if we are using a reading intervention program that is “research-based” to support fluency and comprehension development and yet our students are struggling with phonemic awareness and phonics instruction are we helping them? Are we providing what they need? Absolutely not. So it’s important that we begin looking at what the research says on developing each of the five core components of literacy outlined by the National Reading Panel Report.


Instruction must be targeted…

to meet individual student need. Some really exciting research has come out on the efficacy of coaching teachers on how to target instruction to meet the differing and diverse needs of their students. This article, Targeted Reading Intervention: A Coaching Model to Help Classroom Teachers With Struggling Readers discussed the benefits of targeted intervention for early readers in low-income populations. When educators received specific support on student areas of need and were able to provide specific instructional needs based on assessment, struggling students made incredibly strong gains. What we know is that there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to reading intervention, and so we need to know how to interpret assessments designed to give us information on where our struggling readers need the most support.


Instruction must be explicit…

The National Reading Council has been clear that explicit instruction that teaches rules and patterns is an effective teaching strategy. The RTI Action Network published a wonderful finding on - Classroom Reading Instruction That Supports Struggling Readers: Key Components for Effective Teaching in which they cover the core qualities of instruction that works. Explicit teaching is one of these core components of effective intervention.


Instruction must be realistic…

to be attainable by our students and actionable by our educators. To often what we see are instructional programs that are throwing way too much at our students, not allowing them to solidify concepts before immediately needing to move onto another concept or programs that require our educators to create individualized plans for every student. While we know this type of instruction can be effective in a 1:1 setting, it’s just not realistic for this to be an option for every student and it creates burn-out for our educators. We need to find a way to marry the research on best practices, with a format that works for both our students and educators.

So there you have it, seven must haves for research-based reading intervention.

To learn more about how we use these 7 steps to get even our “non-responders” reading on grade level, join us for our free, online training “7 Steps to Reading Intervention that Works.” >> Click Here to Learn More < <