Important Response to Intervention (RTI) Strategies For Reading And Writing

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

The field of education witnessed a paradigm shift when Response to Intervention (RTI) was introduced. The early education sector’s leaning towards intervention after failure was targeted by RTI. Even though RTI specifically came out to support students struggling with learning disabilities, the approach has been widened to include all students with differing needs. 

RTI emphasizes that school authorities do not have to wait for the child to fail before necessary steps are taken. Hence, through RTI, early detection, intervention, and prevention were made possible. 

While there are no universal guidelines on how to apply the RTI in different subjects, however, using available literature, frameworks, and creativity, teachers use the 3 tier model to formulate strategies for other subjects. The blog below discusses RTI intervention strategies for reading and writing using the multi-tiered approach. 

How is reading and writing RTI different from math RTI?

RTI is a general framework that is applied based on the creativity and accuracy of the intervention strategies formulated by the interventionist. For Reading and Writing RTI, particular instructions are specific to:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonetics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary 
  • Comprehension

Even though RTI is multi-tiered, thereby enables teachers to experiment at every step. However, with math, there is less material for experimentation. The instructions specific to math RTI are:

  • Conceptual Clarity
  • Computation abilities

RTI interventions for reading and writing

It’s no secret that RTI interventions primarily target children with special needs. And amongst them, 80% are affected by difficulty in reading. Hence, reading and writing are essential domains of application for RTI interventions. Taking the universal approach of 3 tiers of RTI, intervention strategies for reading and writing at each level have been mentioned. 

1. Tier 1 strategies

Tier 1 of RTI involves simple teaching. Through scientific-oriented teaching methods, the teacher has to understand the class’s level of verbal aptitude. Thus, education could be through experiential, collaborative, and active learning specially tailored for reading and writing. 

Tier 1 strategies
  • Conduct Verbal Screening

Asking to introduce oneself in front of the class can give a misleading conception of the abilities of the course. As tier 1 of RTI entails a general screening of the students for their reading and writing abilities, students can be given a small classroom essay on any topic of their choice or the teachers. They can read the same article in class while getting honest time feedback from the teacher. 

  • Choral Reading 

After conducting the verbal screening, the teacher is free to move ahead with the lesson’s introduction. If the results obtained through the screening imply that students need additional help with new complex words, then Choral Reading as the strategy can be employed. Choral reading means selective reading of content by the teacher while the student predicts the meaning of the text.

  • Summarize and Paraphrase

Even when choral reading is practiced, some students might want to refrain from actively speaking out about their doubts. Hence, in tier 1 of RTI for reading and writing, a written summary of the lesson can be taken from the students daily or weekly. Paraphrasing the content while concluding the lecture is essential; it not only reinforces what has been taught but also enriches the child’s vocabulary and fluency. 

2. Tier 2 Strategies

Tier 2 reading and writing strategies have to get more focused on students who seem to be struggling with reading and writing. Teachers must cross-check if a child works in one of the two and group them accordingly. Post the creation of these small groups; the teacher can increase the time given to reading and writing by these students or follow three with each sub-group individually. 

 Tier 2 Strategies
  • Intervening

By the time tier-two strategies have set in, it is evident that an evaluation has taken place. As the teacher has been tracking students’ progress with the strategy of tier 1, the next step is to look for any progress that has taken place during the tier 1 phase. If not, the teacher has to intervene and get personally involved with specific students to learn about their difficulties. 

  • Switch between Guided and Shared Reading 

The one-on-one conversation with the students can make things easier for the teacher, as it will help them to understand where supplementary instruction is needed. A promising intervention strategy in reading and writing at the tier 2 level could be alternating between shared and guided reading. While shared reading would provide the children with engagement and richer verbal learning, guided learning would reinforce what’s been learned while addressing the doubts and difficulties. 

  • Learning of the day

As the second strategy covers the reading aspect of fluency training in tier strategy, writing is covered with daily learning of the days. Students in smaller groups can be asked to write what they have learned or a summary of the lesson in the last 10 minutes of the session. The teacher can give immediate feedback on the summary and use them to track progress. 

3. Tier 3 Strategies

Tier 3 strategies are centrally focused on the student. Progress made through the two tiers is measured and analyzed, and the institute can make an informed decision with the parent on how to proceed. Tier 3 interventions mainly include children with special needs; however, this might be different for others. In either case, a more targeted, rigorous, and evaluative approach must be taken as part of the tier 3 strategy. 

Tier 3 Strategies
  • Intensive Screening

Up until tier 1 and tier 2, teachers’ track records consisted of pre- and post-lesson evaluations. However, tier 3 gets more in-depth, with interventionists asking schools about previous progress reports and performance in unit tests and mid-term examinations. This in-depth evaluation helps find the root cause of the issue so that essential steps are taken. A general conversation with parents, teachers of the previous guide, and students themself can be held. 

  • Experimentation with different forms of reading

Most of the time, the student needs to be aware of what kind of reading or writing technique might work for them. Hence, the best way to understand the type of learning they need is by experimenting with various kinds of reading. With a focus on a single kid, the teacher would only face a few problems in testing with each of the techniques.

  • Visualization – Visualisation is a reading technique in which a mental picture or storyline is created with what is being read. It is a powerful method of incorporating comprehension with fluency.
  • The whisper phone – Just as visualization uses the power of sensory modality, the whisper uses auditory information to help with reading. A curved cylinder replicating the design of a telephone is placed on the ear of the child. At the same time, the other end is placed on the mouth. The loudened voice prevents the child from getting distracted and has enhanced fluency and comprehension. 
  • Rhythm walks – In simpler words, “rhythm walk” is walking while reading. The main emphasis here is on repetition to target fluency in reading. 
  • Employing other sources – For a teacher working at tier 3 intervention, things can get stressful. Hence, it’s imperative to seek support from the community and get supervision or feedback. Besides supervision, community support can be critical in learning newer techniques and technologies. Hence, such information can be used both at the parental and school levels to better assist the child. 

Effectiveness of RTI in reading and writing

Reading and writing are essential life skills. Some developing nations also regard reading and writing as a hallmark of literacy. However, some individuals struggle with fluency. This problem is often traceable to the lack of support at school or home. However, through RTI, the efforts toward the issues can be better targeted. The study[1] by Barbara J. Ehren, Donald D. Deshler, and Patricia Sampson Graner suggested that the content literacy curriculum is very suitable to the RTI intervention framework and can even lead to enhanced academic achievements. 

While several studies discuss the compatibility of RTI with content literacy curriculums, a significant proportion of research also points towards early detection of problems. The study[2] by Olga Arias-Gundín and Ana García Llamazares found that RTI successfully identified early-stage strugglers and even prevented further reading problems. 


Reading and writing need to be addressed during the early school years. With the former educational framework, it took a lot of work to support students presenting difficulties in verbal aptitude. But with RTI, reading and writing are easily targeted.

Using techniques like guided reading, choral reading, and summary creation, teachers can very well engage students and enhance their overall verbal aptitude through targeted efforts. At the same time, RTI can be a substantially effective technique, especially when combined with powerful tools like quotes, that can be used by teachers, educators, and parents. 


  1. Barbara J. Ehren, Donald D. Deshler & Patricia Sampson Graner (2010) Using the Content Literacy Continuum as a Framework for Implementing RTI in Secondary Schools, Theory Into Practice, 49:4, 315-322, DOI: 10.1080/00405841.2010.510760
  2. Arias-Gundín, O.; García Llamazares, A. Efficacy of the RtI Model in the Treatment of Reading Learning Disabilities. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 209. educsci11050209

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