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    Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    Curious about the latest trends in K-12 interventions? Each year, we comb through the nearly 9 MILLION SUPPORT PLANS created in the Branching Minds MTSS platform to see what’s buzzing with our district partners. We’ve crunched the numbers to bring you the most-used math and reading interventions, along with expert suggestions from our Learning Science team. Let's break it down!

    About The Branching Minds Support Library

    The Branching Minds Support Library has hundreds of research-based supports and interventions. You can find the perfect intervention by sorting for:

    • Student Insight Survey results
    • Topic
    • Tier Level
    • Grade Level
    • School or District recommendation

    AND, our Learning Sciences department evaluates each resource using ESSA’s Tiers of Evidence. These tiers can provide districts with great insights into how interventions and supports work. Keep in mind that it’s important to review the data for the context in which an intervention or support will be utilized. An intervention program can be incredibly popular, but may not be appropriate for specific settings, grade levels, or targeted skills. After all, popularity isn’t everything! 

    Top Reading Interventions Used in 2024


    IXL is a commonly used paid program that offers standards-aligned content for math, language arts, science, and social studies. Recently, this program has also added content for Spanish fluency, providing interactive questions, audio, and real-world scenarios that teach Spanish vocabulary and grammar skills. 

    IXL has a solid research base, with studies showing a positive correlation between IXL usage and student academic achievement. 

    When using IXL, educators can easily differentiate the lesson by assigning students skills based on their abilities. This is an easy way to meet the needs of all students and allow them to work at their skill level. 

    Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)

    F&P LLI is a very commonly used reading intervention program and consistently appears among the most-used reading programs on the Branching Minds platform. F&P LLI is a paid program that uses small-group lessons to teach oral language, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Lessons alternate between “independent level” texts and the more challenging “instructional level” texts. 

    Fountas & Pinnell have been highly criticized by educators and cognitive scientists, and the research on this program yields less-than-encouraging results. LLI has only shown positive results with younger students, and the studies of LLI have historically used a less reliable assessment to determine reading growth. 

    Criticism of this program is based on the program’s inclusion of “cueing” as a reading strategy. Science of reading research has shown that this method is not effective and contributes to increasingly significant reading problems as students get older. 

    TIP: Educators should feel empowered to evaluate intervention programs and determine the most appropriate fit for their students. An intervention program may be generally considered “strong,” but the research may only support its use with certain grade levels, only some parts of the intervention program, or the program may not be an appropriate intervention for all learners.

    Lexia Core5 Reading

    Lexia Core5 Reading is a computerized reading program designed to accelerate the development of literacy skills for students in grades PreK-5. This program aims to reduce the risk of students not meeting grade-level standards while also providing instruction for students who are on track or accelerated. Core5 follows an adaptive blended learning model that offers explicit, systematic, and personalized reading instruction. The program alerts educators to student progress and recommends specific interventions and practice resources based on student performance. 

    Lexia may be a good alternative to Fountas and Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention. Core5 is built on the science of reading and is ranked as “Strong” based on the ESSA standards of evidence. It has been evaluated using rigorous scientific methods and has been found effective with a variety of populations to help close the literacy gap in as little as 10 weeks. As always, we recommend that teachers thoroughly look into a variety of programs before selecting one for their students.

    Graphic Organizers

    Graphic Organizers help students construct meaning from what they are reading by providing a visual representation of concepts. They are a handy tool because they can be adapted to any grade level and tier level and adjusted for any specific student’s needs. 

    Graphic organizers can be used for many purposes, but they are most commonly used for students who struggle with reading comprehension and memory. Research has shown that graphic organizers can improve narrative and expository writing skills, particularly in students with learning disabilities. When used as an intervention, graphic organizers can assist students with connecting existing knowledge to new information, sequencing story events, brainstorming essay ideas, outlining a plot, identifying character traits, or anything else that can be represented visually.

    If you haven’t already, consider whether a program like Corgi or WEGO-RIITE’s Technology-Based Graphic Organizer would be useful. These are free tools that teachers can use to create and utilize digital graphic organizers. These two sites are primarily designed for middle- and high-school students, but some of the methods or additional resources on the websites may be useful for elementary classrooms. For current BRM partners, these are both available in the Branching Minds Support Library!

    Learn More: 5 Practical Reading Comprehension Strategies for Secondary Students


    iReady is an online program that provides content for reading and math; it appears on this top five list for both content areas! The iReady program includes adaptive diagnostic assessments, individualized instruction, and practice materials for students. Teachers like that the program allows them to provide instruction and intervention that is specific for each student.

    iReady’s reading program is based on the science of reading and has ‘moderate’ supporting evidence, according to the ESSA Tiers of Evidence. Studies have shown that students who used iReady for at least 45 minutes each week had growth in reading and math performance above the national average student growth levels. 

    iReady stresses the importance of the teacher being “at the center” of the implementation. We’d like to echo this; the teacher must be actively engaged, monitoring the intervention, reviewing reports and checking in with students, setting goals for students, and celebrating their successes. iReady is a great intervention tool for teachers, but the teacher should also be utilizing their knowledge of their students and checking in with their educator instincts. 

    → Related Resource: Aligning SMART Goals to the Just-Right MTSS Interventions

    Top Math Interventions Used in 2024


    Look familiar? This program was also listed as the top most-used reading intervention of 2024! Teachers have lots of reasons to love IXL Math: 

    • The program is research-based, with a “strong” rating according to ESSA
    • IXL can be implemented in a variety of learning models
    • The program is interactive, promoting student engagement
    • Teachers are provided with feedback, analytics, and data on student progress

    IXL Math promotes rigor by introducing concepts, building mathematical fluency, and challenging students with real-world applications and problems. The program is aligned to state standards and the Common Core and features over 4,500 math skills for students in grades preK-12. 

    If you are currently using IXL, make sure that you take full advantage of the Teacher Toolkit! This toolkit walks through how to use the platform, how to encourage goal-setting, and how to easily align IXL skills with what you are currently teaching.


    iReady Mathematics is an online custom math curriculum that aims to support students individually as they progress and learn. The iReady Math program uses real-world problems to help students gain understanding, helping students to develop a deep understanding of mathematical concepts. 

    iReady is a great math program with a solid research base! 

    DreamBox Learning

    DreamBox Learning is a web-based program that replaces math skill drills and worksheets with gamified activities that fit students’ individual needs. The program analyzes how each student approaches the problems and tailors content for them, making it highly individualized. This intervention helps students fill in any knowledge gaps and presents them with challenging, but not too challenging problems.

    DreamBox Learning is rated as “strong” according to the ESSA tiers of evidence. Studies showed that students who used DreamBox Learning performed better on the NWEA MAP assessment than those who did not use DreamBox Learning. 

    DreamBox Learning suggests that in order to maximize the impact of their program, students should get logged in and completing lessons within the first two weeks of school. Additionally, they recommend that students complete at least five lessons per week, and educators should log in at least once per week to monitor student growth and learn which students need additional support.

    Zearn Math

    Zearn Math can be used as a standalone curriculum or as a supplementary program. With Zearn Math, students learn targeted lessons with their teachers and peers and then work through the content on their own to reinforce the topics. Zearn Math is specifically designed to accommodate individual learning differences, and the program provides students with multiple ways of learning and engaging with the math material. 

    Case studies have shown that students who received Zearn Math had improvements in their math performance and had overall math assessment scores above the state average. 

    Zearn Math uses the concrete/pictorial/abstract (CPA) pedagogical strategy to help students understand math concepts. This strategy is also known as Concrete, Representational, and Abstract (CRA), which also works by helping students approach problems from three levels in order to deepen their understanding. While Zearn is a great way to implement this strategy, you can also accomplish this on your own:

      • Start by introducing concrete examples of a math concept with physical, hands-on materials. 
      • Next, add some representational examples of the same concept using pictures or drawings. 
      • Finally, you can add the abstract form of the math concept using the appropriate math symbols. 

    “Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA)” is available in the Branching Minds Support Library! 

    Khan Academy

    Khan Academy offers free practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that allows students to study topics at their own pace. The program works by first encouraging students to fill any gaps in understanding and then to accelerate their learning. Students can explore and choose topics to work on, or teachers can assign topics based on student needs. 

    Studies have shown that using Khan Academy leads to better math performance and a better attitude towards math. Many schools opt to use Khan Academy weekly in order to be consistent with the intervention. 

    On top of general math instruction, Khan Academy can also be a fun option for enrichment or even for extension activities for early finishers. They have many courses available, including advanced mathematics, life skills, computing and programming, arts and humanities. 

    Math Bonus:

    If you’re in the market for math intervention resources, another program we’d recommend is BlueStreak Math, a new partner with Branching Minds. BlueStreak is a comprehensive, adaptive math fluency digital platform with automatic intervention groupings and scripted lessons for a low-lift, high-impact approach to math intervention. Its "fluency 2.0" approach extends beyond whole numbers to fractions and decimals, making it a popular choice for both elementary and middle school interventions. 

    → Read More: Math Fluency: We Need a Comprehensive Approach

    Wrap-Up: Intervention Programs Are Only Effective When Implemented With Fidelity

    Popular intervention programs may appear as an easy “one-stop” solution to intervention, providing an alluring array of embedded assessments, individualized activities, and engaging games. But, even the best intervention programs are only effective when they are implemented alongside: 

    Strong core curriculum 
    Explicit instruction by teachers and interventionists
    Opportunities to apply strategies and learning beyond the program context

    Find “Just Right” Interventions With the Branching Minds Intervention Library

    The Branching Minds Intervention Library isn't just a list of interventions; it's a dynamic tool that helps you to identify and deliver personalized, evidence-based support. For more information about the Branching Minds library along with 15 of our most-used interventions, check out this guide Finding and Using Evidence-Based MTSS Interventions: A How-To Guide, or request a demo below.

    Request a Demo Today





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    April 23, 2024

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