Reading interventionists work extensively with students to help them improve specific reading skills such as letter-naming, initial sounds, phoneme segmentation, and comprehension strategies. An interventionist addresses the specific needs of a particular child when regular classroom instruction is not sufficient. Interventionists work with the teacher to design methods of learning that are most appropriate for each child. Interventionists are often former or retired teachers or paraprofessionals who have been trained in conducting these intensive learning sessions.


Reading interventionists are professionals who usually have a degree in education. Most interventionists are experienced teachers seeking career advancement in a job outside the classroom. Some schools employ certified interventionists who have a reading specialist degree. Depending on the size of the school and the needs of the district, one interventionist may work at several schools, serving only students that are assessed and diagnosed as high-risk for reading failure.


Reading interventionists are employed on a full- or part-time basis. They consult with classroom teachers using assessment and observation data to target students who need additional remediation. They design interventions based on kids' learning needs and styles. Interventionists focus on all five of the main components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.


Reading interventionists are usually required to have a bachelor's degree in education. Some school districts may require interventionists to take courses and/or training to become certified as a reading specialist. Other qualifications include interpersonal relations skills with children and school personnel. Interventionists have to work with teachers and administrators concerning scheduling and use of materials and workspace. They may also have to meet with parents about their children's progress. Communication skills are crucial in this profession.


Reading interventionists are instructional specialists, not tutors. They do not simply reinforce or review what the teacher is covering in the classroom. They should design interventions and write lesson plans detailing methods and materials. Like other teachers, interventionists have to adjust instruction if assessments indicate no progress. Interventionists are also held accountable for student mastery of targeted skills.


Effective reading interventionists have a tremendous impact on struggling readers. Many of these students are lost in whole-group instruction or may be hesitant about participating or asking for help. They will probably feel more comfortable in a one-on-one or small-group setting working with peers of similar ability. Because of this instructional format, interventionists can observe students closely and monitor for evidence of learning disabilities that the classroom teacher may not notice.