LLI-NTS Program Description

D. Maximizing State-Level Funds to Support Students

The Department recognizes that States have an extraordinary opportunity to address the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on underserved students through the ARP Act’s required State set-asides to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, provide summer learning and enrichment programs, and provide comprehensive afterschool programs. In this section, SEAs will describe their evidence-based strategies for these resources.

Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time: Describe how the SEA will use the funds it reserves under section 2001(f)(1) of the ARP Act (totaling not less than 5 percent of the State’s total allocation of ARP ESSER funds) on evidence-based interventions to address the academic impact of lost instructional time by supporting the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs, and ensure that such interventions respond to students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. The description must include:

i. A description of the evidence-based interventions (e.g., providing intensive or high-dosage tutoring, accelerating learning) the SEA has selected, and the extent to which the SEA will evaluate the impact of those interventions on an ongoing basis to understand if they are working;

Description of the Evidence-Based Intervention

Leveled Literacy Intervention National Tutoring Scale-Up (LLI NTS) is a short-term, supplementary, small-group literacy intervention model designed to support the accelerated learning of  students in grades kindergarten through grade two (and beyond) who are performing below grade level in reading and writing. LLI provides explicit, intensive instruction to three children at a time in the essential areas of phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, oral language skills, and writing. Teachers match students with texts of progressing difficulty and deliver systematic lessons that address students’ reading  needs. Instructional sessions are 30 minutes daily for approximately 14 to 18 weeks.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is an intensive and short-term intervention, designed to help students reading below grade level achieve accelerated growth with daily lessons. LLI includes a specially created and sequenced sets of original children’s books, and lessons focus on phonemic awareness/phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and writing about reading. Trained tutors use planned lessons that enable them to do highly effective and efficient teaching, resulting in rapid student progress.

LLI is an evidence-based intervention validated by What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) as an effective early literacy intervention for grades K-2. With two randomized studies meeting the WWC’s most rigorous design criteria, LLI has been proven effective with a wide range of students, including English Language Learners and economically disadvantaged students.


LLI Tutors are school district employees who work directly with groups of three children for 30 minutes per day.  A full-time tutor can serve up to 8 groups over the school day. We recommend certified teachers and other college graduates who are willing to engage in the required training and communication systems.

LLI Lead Tutors are school district employees who work with groups of children daily and support the implementation effort.  They are selected by the district for their expertise and skills in leadership, team building, organizing, and monitoring the efforts of LLI Tutors. They provide face-to-face support to tutors by leading discussions, guiding their application of the lesson framework, providing feedback on how they interact with children, and monitoring children’s progress.


LLI is designed to be used daily (30-minutes of instruction for K-2) with small groups of students who need intensive teaching to achieve grade level competencies. Students should be effectively grouped in LLI by similarity, both considering reading level and literacy strengths and needs. LLI is for:

  • Students who need intensive support to achieve grade-level competencies
  • Students acquiring English as an additional language
  • Students identified as special needs (if LLI meets the educational program specifications for that student)


Each LLI System includes the following digital resources:

  • Teacher Digital Resources: Online Resources provide tutors with the tools to create customized word, letter, and phonics games for LLI lessons, as well as digital access to identified lesson resources.
  • Online Data Management System (ODMS): A secure and efficient way to collect, analyze, and report LLI student data according to district requirements.
  • Professional Learning and Tutorial Videos: Model videos created for each LLI System featuring model lessons, instructional procedures, and a tutorial on coding, scoring, and analyzing reading records.


LLI curriculum resources are carefully written and designed to capture the interest of young students with fast-paced lessons that deliver high-impact teaching. LLI lessons focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, fluency and writing about reading with opportunities to read a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres.

Each LLI System provides:

  • Combination of reading, writing, and phonics/word study
  • Systematic and explicit work on sounds, letters, and words
  • Explicit attention to genre and to the features of both fiction and nonfiction books
  • Writing about reading for the purpose of communicating and learning how to express ideas using a variety of writing strategies
  • Home/school connections and communication tools
  • Digital support for assessment, record keeping, lesson instruction and home/school connection
  • Close reading to deepen and expand comprehension. Each lesson includes a new and highly engaging text:
  • Kindergarten: 110 original books
  • Grade 1: 130 original books
  • Grade 2: 120 original books

Program Operation

In LLI lessons, instruction centers around four critical areas: reading texts, writing texts, phonics/word work, and oral language learning. Children read numerous books, write stories, learn phonics skills in a systematic way, and expand their oral language, including vocabulary. The design of the standard lesson framework includes original leveled books based on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. In the alternating odd/even framework, the two texts provide different experiences for students and different opportunities for intensive teaching. The instructional level text is just a little harder than we would expect the students to read independently, but with strong teaching, they can process the text effectively. The independent level text provides the experience of reading a new book with ease—something struggling readers rarely experience.

Professional Development, Progress Monitoring, and Follow-up

LLI Tutors and LLI Lead Tutors are trained online by university-based field coaches at Lesley University and The Ohio State University.

School based LLI Tutors and LLI Lead Tutors participate in three days of initial real-time training provided online by university-based field coaches. In addition, ongoing professional development is provided through bi-monthly live virtual meetings and a variety of additional asynchronous learning opportunities. LLI Tutors receive 75 hours of training in total.

LLI Lead Tutors receive the same 75 hours of training that tutors receive, plus an additional 25 hours of training in overseeing the implementation of LLI. Lead Tutors receive the additional support from university-based field coaches in topics like progress monitoring, implementation problem-solving, observation of LLI teaching, and working with adult learners. LLI Lead Tutors complete coaching visits to observe tutors in action when possible. They hold weekly huddles with tutor teams to facilitate problem-solving, monitor student progress, and provide support.

Evidence Base

LLI has been evaluated in two qualifying studies. In one, in rural and suburban Georgia and New York, students were randomly assigned to LLI or control conditions. Across 5 DIBELS scales, the average effect size was +0.23. In a second study in Denver, there were very positive outcomes on the DRA2 in kindergarten but not in first or second grade, for an effect size of +0.10. Averaging the two studies, the effect size was +0.17.

Extent to Which TWLS Will be Evaluated on an Ongoing Basis

At the practice level, tutors will be trained to complete detailed lesson records. These lesson records note the number and sequence of lessons taught, lessons missed, student progress, and observations about student strengths and needs. Lesson records are completed for every group and every individual student receiving services. Students are also assessed at least weekly and the results are included in individual lesson records. The LLI system also includes progress reports provided to classroom teachers. All weekly assessment results will be communicated with classroom teachers and tutors will be trained to share updates and seek information about student progress. Any tutor unable to submit complete lesson records will be assisted with problem solving.

How the evidence-based interventions will specifically address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain groups of students, including each of the student groups listed in question A.3.i.-viii. When possible, please indicate which data sources the SEA will use to determine the impact of lost instructional time; and

How the evidence-based interventions will specifically address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain groups of students

Current data indicates these students will be disproportionately BIPOC, English Language Learners, and from lower-income families. It is critical the services provided have equity and inclusion at their core. LLI has demonstrated success with BIPOC, ELL, and learners from low-income households, as demonstrated by multiple independent research studies

LLI uses books that reflect and honor the diversity of student populations. Lessons are delivered in small groups, allowing for highly individualized teaching. The language-based lessons call for extensive student-teacher and student-student talk, particularly helpful for English Language learners. Teachers observe and closely tailor lessons to the individual strengths of every child, building their sense of agency and control in literacy.

Data sources the SEA will use to determine the impact of lost instructional time

INSERT STATE’S PLANS TO EVALUATE ALL STUDENTS WHEN THEY RETURN, IF ANY. Within LLI, students receive weekly assessments. These serve as the foundation for teaching. Assessments are ongoing and are shared weekly with classroom teachers.

  1. The extent to which the SEA will use funds it reserves to identify and engage 1) students who have missed the most in-person instruction during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years; and 2) students who did not consistently participate in remote instruction when offered during school building closures.

Funding used to adopt LLI is well suited to identifying and engaging students who have missed the most instruction and/or didn’t participate in remote instruction. Those students most in need of support are identified as candidates for LLI. Tutors will measure student’s abilities throughout the program. Lesson records are completed for every group and every individual student receiving services. Students are also assessed at least weekly and the results are included in individual lesson records. The LLI system also includes progress reports provided to classroom teachers.


Heinemann. (2011). Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI): Reading progress for special education LLI students. Available at http://www.heinemann.com/fountasandpinnell/research/lli_datacoll_sped7 subreport_july2011. pdf

Ransford-Kaldon, C., Ross, C., Lee, C., Sutton Flynt, E., Franceschini, L., & Zoblotsky, T. (2013). Efficacy of the Leveled Literacy Intervention system for K-2 urban students: An empirical evaluation of LLI in Denver Public Schools. Memphis, TN: Center for Research in Education Policy.

Ransford-Kaldon, C., Sutton Flynt, E., Ross, C., Franceschini, L., Zoblotsky, T., Huang, Y., & Gallagher, B. (2010). Implementation of effective intervention: An empirical study to evaluate the efficacy of Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI). Memphis, TN: Center for Research in Education Policy.

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