Intensifying Literacy Instruction: Essential Practices

Intensifying Literacy Instruction: Essential Practices

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MiMTSS Technical Assistance Center

   cover of Intensifying Literacy Instruction: Essential Practices         

The purpose of this document is to increase the capacity of practitioners and educational leaders to support a broad range of learners who need more literacy supports to become skilled readers and writers by identifying a set of essential practices that are research-supported and should be the focus of professional development. These practices for intensifying literacy instruction apply to those learners with severe and persistent reading and writing challenges who have not responded when provided with instruction aligned with state academic standards, regardless of disability status. The key practices outlined in this document include:

  1. Knowledge and use of a learning progression for developing skilled readers and writers
  2. Design and use of an evidence-based intervention platform as the foundation for effective intervention
  3. On-going data-based decision making for providing and intensifying interventions
  4. Adaptations to increase the instructional intensity of the intervention
  5. Infrastructures (systems) to support students with severe and persistent literacy needs
The practices are sequenced in such a way as to focus attention first on the skills needed to become a successful reader and writer and then to expand upon the supports needed in order to successfully develop those skills. This document is intended to serve as the foundation for establishing policy, allocating resources, and providing professional learning opportunities to address the needs of a range of students with literacy difficulties, including, but not limited to, those with disabilities.

To learn more about this resource, watch the archived webinar featuring Drs. Kim St. Martin and Sharon Vaughn. They highlight some key essential practices and reflect on considerations for implementation. Drs. St. Martin and Vaughn focus on ways educators and educational leaders can increase their capacity to develop skilled readers and writers, identify critical dimensions for designing intervention platforms as the foundation for effective instruction, and adapt interventions to increase the instructional intensity.


The suggested citation for this document is:

St. Martin, K., Vaughn, S., Troia, G., Fien, & H., Coyne, M. (2020). Intensifying literacy instruction: Essential practices. Lansing, MI: MiMTSS Technical Assistance Center, Michigan Department of Education.

Related Resources

Find additional resources to intensifying literacy instruction.

Literacy Lessons to Support Intensifying Interventions

Taxonomy of Intervention Intensity

Using the Taxonomy of ​Intervention Intensity Within the DBI Process: A Reading Example

Intensive Intervention in Reading Course Content

Tools Chart Overview: Academic Intervention and Assessment Tools Charts

Resource Type
DBI Process
Intervention Adaptation
Implementation Guidance and Considerations
Policy & Guidance
Trainers and Coaches
State and Local Leaders