Programs that Work
Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI)
Children Succeeding in School
Students performing at grade level or meeting state curriculum standards
Age of Child
Early Childhood (0-8)
Type of Setting
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Cognitive Development / School Performance
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
Targeted Reading Intervention (TRI) is a classroom reading intervention. The program aims to improve reading skills among kindergarten and first-grade students who are struggling in this area through one-on-one instruction. In the classroom setting, teachers focus on one struggling student at a time, providing one-on-one instruction to the target for several weeks before moving on to work with another struggling student. The main goal of TRI is to improve reading comprehension while also working on word identification, fluency, and vocabulary (Amendum, Vernon-Feagans, and Ginsberg, 2011).
Seven schools in five school districts in the southwestern United States participated in the evaluation of TRI. Across the seven schools, 264 students in 43 kindergarten and first-grade classrooms participated in the evaluation.
Amendum, Vernon-Feagans , and Ginsberg (2011) evaluated the impact of TRI with a distance technology component in rural school districts in the southwestern United States. Schools within each district were paired based on school size, racial and ethnic composition, participation in Reading First (another program aimed at improving reading among struggling students), and percentage of students eligible for reduced-price lunch. Then, the schools within each pairing were randomized to the TRI group or the control (nonintervention) group. One school randomized to TRI dropped out of the evaluation due to technology issues, leaving seven schools. Students were eligible to participate in the evaluation if they were not diagnosed with a severe disability and if they spoke some conversational English. Teachers along with TRI literacy coaches determined further eligibility as follows. First, teachers assessed reading skills using all state- and district-mandated assessments of emergent reading skills. Then, TRI coaches guided teachers in using a TRI screening instrument to rank students' progress. The TRI screening instrument asked teachers to rank students from low to high performance on state- or district-mandated assessments of reading skills. The teacher also rated whether the student was benefiting from regular classroom instruction and whether the student was below, at, or above grade level. Using the rankings, teachers formed two groups of students — focal (below grade level and struggling to learn to read) and nonfocal (at or above grade level and benefiting from regular classroom instruction). From among these students, five focal and five nonfocal students were randomly selected to participate in the evaluation. Focal students in the intervention schools received TRI. Nonfocal students in the intervention schools, and focal and nonfocal students in the control schools, received regular classroom instruction. There were 112 students in the intervention focal group and 63 students in the control focal group. Overall, there were 237 students in the intervention schools and 127 students in the control schools.
Children were assessed in the fall and spring on four subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery, III. The subtests included Word Attack (a measure of phonetic skills), Letter/Word Identification (a measure of word identification skills), Passage Comprehension (a measure of symbolic understanding and passage comprehension), and Spelling of Sounds (a measure of spelling ability). Performance by focal children at intervention and control schools was compared using a hierarchical model that accounted for nesting of students within classrooms. There was a greater proportion of white students in the intervention focal group than in the control focal group of students (39.3 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively). There were no differences in pretest scores among students in the intervention focal group and control focal group. The analysis also controlled for grade level (kindergarten versus first grade), student race, student gender, and mother's education level.
Key Evaluation Findings
On all four subtests of the Woodcock-Johnson Diagnostic Reading Battery, III — Word Attack, Letter/Word Identification, Spelling of Sounds, and Passage Comprehension — focal students in the intervention group performed significantly better in the spring than focal students in the control group.
Kindergarten and first-grade teachers
Funding for the evaluation was provided via IES Grant for the National Research Center for Rural Education Support.
The distance technology module portion of the TRI intervention costs approximately $1,300 per classroom.
The TRI model was developed to assist teachers in improving reading skills among struggling students in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. The intervention was designed with a focus on rural, low-income communities. Teachers implementing TRI work one-on-one with students struggling with reading while the other students in the class work on reading independently or with a teaching assistant. During the 15- to 20-minute one-on-one sessions, the teacher and student work through lessons that focus on three components of TRI: Re-Reading for Fluency, Word Work, and Guided Oral reading. Teachers' lessons are informed by daily diagnostic feedback from the day's lesson, such that the lessons are tailored to the student's specific needs. Teachers also work with TRI literacy coaches via web videoconferences. TRI literacy coaches observe teachers working with students struggling with reading and provide real-time feedback on implementing the TRI strategies (Amendum, Vernon-Feagans, and Ginsberg, 2011).
TRI is implemented by kindergarten and first-grade teachers. The one-on-one sessions may require a teaching assistant to work with the other students in the classroom.
TRI focuses on three components during the one-on-one sessions. As described by Amendum, Vernon-Feagans, and Ginsberg (2011), these components are:
- Re-Reading for Fluency: Students read a passage that they have read previously in order to develop word identification automaticity and reading fluency. The teacher may also read aloud parts of the text to demonstrate fluency.
- Word Work: The teacher works with students to manipulate and write words in order to develop phonological decoding and sight word recognition skills.
- Guided Oral Reading: The teacher assists the student in reading to improve passage comprehension and word identification.
Issues to Consider
This program received a "promising" rating. The 2011 evaluation of TRI had significant differences in the racial composition of students in the intervention focal and control focal groups. These differences were controlled for in the analysis.
Additional evaluations of TRI have been conducted, including an evaluation of TRI with on-site literacy coach consulting . This evaluation found positive effects of the TRI program for struggling students, however, the evaluation did not meet the Promising Practices Network (PPN) evidence criteria due to a small sample size. This evaluation included two control schools and one treatment school. The randomized evaluation using distance technology presented here is the only evaluation which meets the PPN evidence criteria, including study design, effect size, and statistical significance. Note also that this evaluation was conducted by the program developer.
Kindergarten and first-grade classrooms in rural regions of the southwestern United States.
The William C. Friday Distinguished Professor
301K Peabody Hall #3500
The University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
More information on TRI can be found at http://www.targetedreadingintervention.org/
Amendum, S. J., L. Vernon-Feagans, and M. C. Ginsberg, "The Effectiveness of a Technology Facilitated Classroom-Based Early Reading Intervention,"
The Elementary School Journal,
Vol. 112, 2011, pp. 107-131.
National Institute of Child Health and Development, Reporting of the National Reading Panel. Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature of Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction: Reports of the Subgroups. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2000.
Snow, C. E., M. S. Burns, and P. Griffin, eds., Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children: A Report of the National Research Council, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998.