Reducing the Need for Intervention

Today is my last day of my first full year as a Reading Specialist. It’s been a year full of learning experiences and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work. I’ve been working hard to see what my students need, as well as trying to figure out how my school can best serve all of the students. This section, “Reducing the Need for Intervention”, called to me as soon as I read the heading!

According to ASCD, the percentage of students receiving RTII Tier 3 interventions should ideally be 1-5%. Currently, my school has 7% of its students receiving pull-out services, with more students being referred. A phrase I like is “if everyone needs intervention, nobody needs intervention.” To me, this means that it’s important to look at data and trends to see in which  areas students need most support. If I’m being honest, a lot of what I did in my small groups this past year were not really Tier 3 interventions. They weren’t really even Tier 2 interventions – I taught students reading strategies, how to read text features, and provided graphic organizers.

So despite the number of students I had that made significant growth in my small groups this year, something bothered me a little bit. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but after I read this section in Regie’s book, I figured out what it was. In the book there is a section titled “Intervention Matters: Self-Evaluate” that presents some questions to ask ourselves. The second question in particular interested me – “Are we making full-out efforts to be responsive (differentiating instruction) to the needs and interests of every student?” Based on the kinds of interventions I was providing in my small groups, I’m not so sure that we were. Graphic organizers should be a part of good classroom instruction, and reading strategies should be embedded across the curriculum.

I realize this is all really easy for me to say – after all, my job title suggests that I have specialized knowledge of reading strategies. Without the dedicated time to share this knowledge with my colleagues, it really only benefits the students I have in my small groups. There wasn’t a lot of time this year for me to run professional learning groups around literacy, but I did meet with a few colleagues before and after school to talk about reading strategies. The students in those teachers’ classes made fantastic progress. It seemed like the students appreciated having consistent reading strategies across multiple classes – they were getting consistent instruction and were able to practice using those strategies in all subjects.

A number of those students exited RTII after having made over a year’s worth of growth over the past year. It (informally) showed me that with good instruction in all areas, students can make significant growth! I wondered if they wouldn’t have had to be in RTII at all had they been getting the consistent instruction from the start…?

So this section called to me because I can see a connection between good classroom instruction and a reduction in the need for intervention. And just like Regie writes about in this section, I truly believe that we need to be asking ourselves if all our students are being given the opportunities, they can succeed without intervention.

This post is part of a book study around Literacy Essentials: Engagement, Excellence, and Equity for All Learners by Regie Routman (Stenhouse, 2018). Check out more resources associated with the text at this website (, including a free curriculum for teaching an undergraduate course using Literacy Essentials.

Author: ctkreider

Self-proclaimed foodie, music lover...

9 thoughts on “Reducing the Need for Intervention”

  1. Carrie, Congratulations on another exceptionally thoughtful post. I especially appreciate how honest and reflective you are, which is a necessity for improving and refining our instructional and assessment practices. I am impressed at how you recognized the need to expand your role as reading specialist to include professional learning with a few colleagues, which in turn resulted in students receiving “consistent reading strategies across multiple classes” and making excellent progress. You also wisely recognize that the first and most important intervention is first rate classroom instruction. With admiration, Regie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! This year has certainly been a learning experience for me, and I am very fortunate to have two other Reading Specialists that I can learn from and reflect with. Not to mention that I have been devouring your book and I’m so excited to start next year off with some great ideas!


  2. Thank you for shedding light on this super important topic! Teaching reading strategies DOES make a HUGE difference. What concerns me is that not a lot of “programs” or “basal series” seem to adequately address
    teaching reading strategies. My students inevitable read more and with greater purpose when they know and use strategies that have been explicitly taught and practiced.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading! Since it was my first year in my position, I often thought “well, I guess I’ll try _____.” I couldn’t believe how much progress my students made just by using their reading strategies consistently! From decoding strategies to understanding non-fiction text features, every one of them took something and owned it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! So powerful! I feel this is a huge piece missing in many districts, the teaching of strategies and conversations around them and real reading. Great job!!!


  3. Thank you for the wonderful reflections on a topic more schools need to be discussing. As stated by Ryanne Deschane, most programs do not focus on teaching reading strategies, yet most schools put their instructional focus on a program. Richard Allington has a plethora of research that shows that expert teachers make the difference, not the program, the teacher. Yet so many districts spend a great deal of time using a program as the main source of instruction. Although the intention of Tier 1 in the RtI framework was to focus on students receiving high-quality, research-based instruction, I feel that the intention has been misunderstood by many districts. From what I can gather, many districts cling to the words ‘universal’ and ‘all students’. It seems that many district feel that the only way to ensure all students are receiving high-quality instruction, is by ensuring they are all being taught from a common program. In my experience, no program can provide high-quality instruction to students, the way an expert teacher (given the freedom and flexibility) can. How do we address this common misconception that has led to so many districts focusing on the program as the Universal Tier 1 instruction, rather than allowing teachers to meet each individual student’s needs through more small group and individualized instruction. If we spend more time and put more effort into ensuring students are getting the universal instruction (AKA the program), we are unintentionally creating the need for more Tier 2 and Tier 3 instruction. Thank you again, for shedding light on a topic that needs to be addressed at a district level.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading! A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with one of my administrators about Tier 1 instruction in the classroom. She asked me for a list of Tier 1 Interventions that could be used by the classroom teacher. I suggested that she use the word “instruction” over “intervention”, particularly when referring to Tier 1. The word intervention can come off as something that only a specialist can do, when it’s totally not true!
      Teaching from a “program” is one of my least favorite parts about education. I don’t believe that a textbook program is a curriculum; but I, unfortunately, feel as if there are not many others in my school that feel that way. It takes a lot of trust in your teachers to allow them to stray from exactly what a program suggests.


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