Fountas & Pinnell

Leveled Literacy Intervention National Tutoring Scale-up (LLI NTS)

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Grade Levels Group Size Tutor Type Qualifying Studies Average Effect Size
K-23Teacher, Teacher Asst., Paraprofessional, Reading Teacher, Literacy Specialist2+0.17

Contact Info

For Training Tutors and Lead Tutors by Lesley University and The Ohio State University, please complete this form.

Groups Studied
Asian American
English Learners
Free and Reduced Lunch

Communities Studied

Program Description

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.


2021 LLI National Tutoring Scale-Up from Heinemann Video on Vimeo.


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.

Role of Lead Tutor 

  • Assist tutors in unpacking and organizing teaching materials.
  • Observe lessons and make suggestions for efficient use of time.
  • Observe lessons to assure that all components are used.
  • Help tutors progress monitor and share information with others.
  • Help tutors report data to a central source.
  • Assure that tutors provide on-time daily lessons as arranged in the job description.
  • Assist in problem solving.
  • Communicates with the principal and/or other stakeholders.

This figure shows how training and support can be provided.

Note: Lesley University and The Ohio State University work in collaboration to train LLI Tutors and LLI Lead Tutors.


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


The LLI National Tutoring Scale-Up includes the Benchmark Assessment System 1 (BAS1) for intake and evaluation of student competencies and grouping, as well as built-in initial and ongoing assessments, progress-monitoring, and record-keeping instruments that are practical and that continuously inform teaching. The assessments will help determine appropriate reading levels for grouping and provide useful information on phonics and word analysis, writing, reading, and comprehending to inform daily teaching.

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

The key to success in any new effort is the quality of implementation.  LLI has proven success in helping chidren who find learning literacy difficult when taught by trained teachers. The use of tutors who do not hold teaching credentials constitutes a new venture. The careful sequencing and structure of LLI lessons and the use of supportive materials shows great promise; but both training and supervisory support will be needed.  

LLI Tutors and LLI Lead Tutors are trained online by university-based trainers 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 trainers. In addition, ongoing professional development is provided through bi-monthly live virtual meetings and a variety of additional asynchronous learning opportunities. LLI Tutors receive 50 hours of training in total.

Lead tutors will be supported in their role by participating in the 50 hours of distance training* provided to tutors PLUS an additional 20 hours of a leadership seminar that will enable them to:

  • Gain additional knowledge of LLI teaching and the rationales behind the lesson structure.
  • Learn about reporting data.
  • Connect with others in their roles.
  • Learn more about working with adults to help them improve teaching performance.
  • Share problems and work out solutions.
  • Share data on children’s progress.

*If the school/district has a current experienced LLI provider, this individual may take the 20 hours of leadership seminar only.

Consultation.  From time to time, unique implementation issues may arise. In these cases, school leaders may need individual consultation with the university trainer and this will be provided as needed.


Annual Per Tutor Costs: Tutor is a full-time school employee (48 students served per tutor each year)

Tutor Professional Development Online Across the Year
(50 Hours)
$3500 (per tutor)
Lead Tutor Professional Development Online Across the Year (70 Hours*): Recommended one Lead for up to 20 Tutors$3500 Tutor training $2000 Leadership training
Resource Cost per tutor/lead tutor (includes substantial print and digital resources)Average = $2,927 (Resource cost dependent upon specific grade(s) in which tutor implements the intervention. Resources are not consumable so they can serve as many students as a teacher using the LLI system can serve)
Total Cost Per Tutor$8427 for first tutor and LLI System
$6427 for additional tutors and LLI System

Note: Tutors and lead tutors are usually district employees, or contractors. Substitute actual salaries and benefits to get actual cost.

Research on Program Outcomes

LLI has been evaluated in two qualifying studies in grades K-2. 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.

Key Studies

  • 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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