Targeted Reading Instruction

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.

  1. 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

High-dosage tutoring is an evidence-based intervention that will address lost instructional time due to COVID-19. Research-proven one-to-one tutoring has been shown to be the most effective method of accelerating reading achievement. Proven tutoring models that provide instructors with structured materials and guidance with professional development and real-time coaching have demonstrated greater effects on student achievement than other strategies, including summer school, after school, and extended day programs (Gersten et al., 2020; Neitzel et al., in press; Nickow et al. 2020; Pellegrini et al., 2021; Wanzek et al., 2016). 

One such program, Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI), has been selected as a K-2 reading intervention because of its strong evidence of impact. Each TRI tutor (called “TRI Teacher”) works with students in a one-on-one setting daily for a period of 8-10 weeks to rapidly accelerate reading progress. TRI Teachers help students develop skills in phonics, fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary.  TRI was developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. TRI has been confirmed effective by What Works Clearinghouse, showing impacts on both decoding and reading comprehension for early elementary students.


Any classroom teacher, teacher assistant, resource teacher, or preservice teacher can be trained in TRI. TRI Teachers participate in two days of initial TRI training, and then receive weekly coaching. TRI literacy coaches guide teachers’ implementation of TRI activities and delivery of diagnostic instruction. A full-time TRI Teacher provides 15-20 students with 15-minute daily TRI lessons, switching students after each quarter. TRI Teachers ideally work in-person to provide students the opportunity to use TRI’s hands-on materials, but TRI lessons can be delivered virtually. One TRI Teacher can provide TRI lessons to 60-80 students over the course of an academic year.


TRI was designed for K-2 students who are not yet reading and/or who have challenges mastering specific reading skills (such as phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, or vocabulary development). Each student works one-on-one with a TRI Teacher for approximately 15 minutes a day in daily TRI lessons for 8-10 weeks.


TRI Teachers need access to a tablet or laptop with Internet to receive weekly virtual coaching from TRI literacy coaches and for students to read digital books.


TRI Teachers use interactive TRI activities and strategies within an evidence-based scope and sequence to promote students’ phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. TRI can be used to supplement any curriculum. Unlike most tutoring programs, TRI Teachers learn how to differentiate instruction for each student. TRI Teachers engage in diagnostic instruction, tailoring all elements of the lesson – from word and text choices to instructional level – to meet the needs of each individual student. TRI materials include letter tiles, white board, word lists, lesson guides, lesson planning tool, picture dictionary, and decodable books, all of which can be accessed digitally.

Program Operation

TRI contains four progressively more difficult levels of reading complexity that provide explicit and systematic instruction in foundational reading skills. Levels begin with two- and three-sound short vowel words, then four- to six-sound short vowel words, then long vowels, and finally multisyllable words. Each lesson contains three basic activities: Rereading for Fluency, Word Work, and Connected Text Reading. All Word Work is completed in the context of real words to provide a purpose for the activity and the opportunity for oral language development. During Connected Text Reading, students work with texts that are carefully matched to the focus of the Word Work lessons, beginning with decodable texts but progressing to more complex texts as soon as appropriate. TRI lessons are tailored to meet the needs of each individual student.

Professional Development, Progress Monitoring, and Follow-up

TRI Teachers attend two days of initial in-person or virtual training, where they watch training videos, observe coaches model TRI activities and strategies, and practice TRI. After training, TRI Teachers receive weekly real-time virtual coaching sessions from TRI literacy coaches as the teacher works with a student. The virtual format allows coaches to work with teachers all over the country and provide immediate support and guidance to build teachers’ diagnostic teaching skills. Additionally, webcam coaching allows a single coach to serve up to twenty-five teachers. TRI literacy coaches are available to offer support at all times during the school day providing flexible scheduling for TRI Teachers. 

Evidence Base

Two studies have evaluated the impact of TRI on student reading (formerly called Targeted Reading Intervention). Both studies (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013, 2018) took place in Title 1 schools in rural communities. In the first study (Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013; What Works Clearinghouse, 2017), approximately 45% of students were White, 30% of students were Black, and 25% were Hispanic. Effect sizes averaged 0.43 for alphabetics and 0.46 for passage comprehension. In the second study, 25% of students were White, 54% were Black, 16% were Hispanic, and 7% were of another race or ethnicity. Effect sizes averaged 0.27 for alphabetics and 0.16 for passage comprehension.

Extent to Which TRI Will be Evaluated on an Ongoing Basis

TRI is designed to work with the reading assessments already in place in the classroom. An initial assessment informs student placement for the first TRI lesson. As part of every TRI lesson, TRI Teachers engage in formative assessment to guide their instruction for each student. This information is then shared with classroom teachers to complement and enhance classroom learning. TRI Teachers complete a daily diagnostic map that serves as both a planning instrument and a formative assessment tool. Diagnostic maps provide evidence of student progress over time. Individual student progress is measured over time against standard grade level competencies as well as with school-based progress monitoring and benchmark assessments.

ii.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

Recent data has shown that reading losses due to COVID-19 are the greatest in K-1, and mostly among African American and Hispanic students (Amplify Education, 2021). Specifically, on the DIBELS standardized test given mid-year in 2019-2020 and then 2020-2021 to 400,000 matched students in 1,400 schools in 41 states, results showed a 68% increase in the percentage of kindergartners at risk of not learning to read, and a 65% increase of first graders. Within these results, twice as many African American kindergartners are in the lowest reading category than before COVID, and 59% of Hispanic kindergartners are now in the lowest reading category, compared to 34% pre-COVID. Patterns are similar in first grade (Amplify Education, 2021).

TRI has shown strong impacts with K-1 students, many of whom were African American or Hispanic students (Amendum et al., 2017; Vernon-Feagans et al., 2013, 2018). The one-on-one structure of TRI will allow each TRI Teacher to identify and target individual needs of students.

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 TRI, students receive an initial assessment that serves as the baseline upon which students will then build their skills. Formative assessments are ongoing and are shared weekly with students’ teachers. Individual student progress is measured over time against standard grade level competencies and school-based benchmarking and progress monitoring. Additionally, TRI coaches offer support with data analysis, building teacher competence in applying data to instructional decision making.

iii. 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.

TRI Teachers work with 60-80 students over the course of an academic year, using an individualized approach that allows teachers to target instruction effectively and efficiently to build student skills. TRI Teachers work with classroom teachers and school administrators to identify students who have missed the most in-person and remote instruction as they will likely demonstrate delays in reading comprehension. Funding used to adopt TRI includes identifying the extent of students’ reading delays by the very nature of the program. Students are judged as candidates for TRI if they are in the lowest-level reading classes, if they perform poorly on benchmark reading screenings, or if they are referred by teachers who see them struggling with foundational reading skills. A TRI Teacher measures a student’s baseline abilities and receives coaching support to identify and place students at the correct TRI level. As a student continues with TRI lessons, the TRI Teacher tracks daily progress and paces lessons to rapidly accelerate student reading. Daily progress monitoring data will be shared with the student’s classroom teacher and any other educators involved with the student. 


  • Amendum, S., Bratsch-Hines, M. E., & Vernon-Feagans, L. (2017). Investigating the efficacy of a web-based early reading and professional development intervention for young English Learners. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(2), 155–174.
  • Amplify Education (2021). COVID-19 means more students not learning to read. Author.
  • Gersten, R., Haymond, K., Newman-Gonchar, R., Dimino, J., & Jayanthi, M. (2020). Meta-analysis of the impact of reading interventions for students in the primary grades. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 13(2), 401–427.
  • Neitzel, A., Lake, C., Pellegrini, M., & Slavin, R. (2021). A synthesis of quantitative research on programs for struggling readers in elementary schools. Reading Research Quarterly. doi:10.1002/rrq.379
  • Nickow, A, Oreopoulos, P., & Quan, V. (2020). The impressive effects of tutoring on preK-12 learning: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Pellegrini, M., Neitzel, A., Lake, C., & Slavin, R. (2021). Effective programs in elementary mathematics: A best-evidence synthesis. AERA Open, 7 (1), 1-29.
  • Vernon-Feagans, L., Bratsch-Hines, M. E., Varghese, C., Cutrer, E., & Garwood, J. (2018). Improving struggling readers’ early literacy skills through a Tier 2 professional development program for rural classroom teachers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Elementary School Journal, 118, 525–548. doi:10.1086/697491
  •  Vernon-Feagans, L., Kainz, K., Hedrick, A., Ginsberg, M., & Amendum, S. (2013). Live webcam coaching to help early elementary classroom teachers provide effective literacy instruction for struggling readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105, 1175–1187. doi: 10.1037/a0032143
  • Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M. A., & Capin, P. (2016). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K-3. Educational Psychology Review, 28(3), 551–576. doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9321-7
  • What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. (2017). WWC review of the report: Live webcam coaching to help early elementary classroom teachers provide effective literacy instruction for struggling readers: The Targeted Reading Intervention. Retrieved from
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