Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    Throughout 2021, Branching Minds’ partner schools accessed hundreds of interventions in the Branching Minds’ intervention library—providing targeted, research-based support for struggling students.

    We have gathered data from this period to provide districts with insights into which math and reading interventions were the most used in intervention plans. We have gone the extra step to briefly break down these interventions, including insights into evidence-based levels and reflections on application. 

    About The Branching Minds Support Library

    The Branching Minds support library comprises hundreds of research-based supports and interventions. While the interventions featured here are the “most used,” the most appropriate intervention should be determined based on student needs and targeted skills. Sometimes, intervention programs can be incredibly popular with districts or schools, but not be appropriate for specific settings, grade levels, or targeted skills. 

    Branching Minds evaluates each intervention resource by ESSA’s Tiers of Evidence. While these tiers can provide districts with great insights into how interventions and supports work, it’s important to review that data in the proper context that an intervention or support will be utilized. 


    💡Did you know?

    An intervention is evidence-based instruction targeting a specific skill or learning gap. These are resources employed at Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels, with systematic data collection and progress monitoring tools. Interventions are delivered during a defined period of time, with special considerations given for the level of need for each student. These are resources to supplement a robust core curriculum where learning supports have not allowed students to achieve grade-level mastery. 

    Interventions can manifest in various ways, ranging from strategies and tools to comprehensive, individualized learning programs. Implementation of intervention occurs after a need is documented through a universal screening assessment and an interventionist, team, or teacher has selected a specific skill to target for a planned period of time. 

    Learn more ➡️ A Quick Review of MTSS Supports, Interventions, and Accommodations


    Top Reading Interventions Used in 2021

    Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) 

    F&P LLI is an extremely common paid program used on the Branching Minds platform. In both 2020 and 2021, it ranked as the most used reading intervention program on the Branching Minds platform. This small-group intervention program utilizes lessons and engaging texts to provide supplemental reading and writing support. 

    This intervention program is ranked as “Strong” based on the ESSA standards of evidence. However, a word of caution for educators interested in utilizing this program. LLI has been highly criticized for years by educators and cognitive scientists. The program has only shown to be effective for kindergarten and first-grade students.

    This criticism is rooted in the program’s focus on “cueing” as a method of reading instruction. While a popular method of reading instruction, research into the science of reading has shown this method to not be as effective for all learners—with evidence showing these issues increasing in higher grades. 

    While widely used, LLI provides an excellent example of how educators can use data to evaluate intervention programs to determine if they are indeed the best fit for their students. While a program may be considered “strong” evidence-wise, this research-backing could support only certain grade levels and not the best fit for all learners. 

    Check out our recent webinar on Addressing America’s Literacy Crisis Through Evidence-Based Action.

    Lexia Reading Core5

    Lexia Reading Core5 is a paid, computer-based literacy program designed to support struggling early readers (PreK-5th grade). The engaging activities from this program provide individualized practice in basic literacy skills. The activities target phonemic awareness, phoneme-grapheme mapping, vocabulary, and reading comprehension skills.

    While Lexia Reading Core5 is a computerized program that can be used during an intervention, the program should be paired with strong, differentiated core instruction and explicit intervention instruction. Lexia is ranked as “Strong,” based on the ESSA standards of evidence, after a series of randomized studies determined that Lexia Reading Core5 had a significant impact on reading levels for students in grades K-5. 

    Graphic Organizers 

    Graphic organizers are differentiated teaching tools that support students in reading comprehension. Appropriate for all grade levels and tier levels, graphic organizers vary in their interpretation in use. 

    Graphic organizers are beneficial for students who struggle with reading comprehension and memory. Research has shown that graphic organizers effectively improve narrative and expository writing skills, particularly in students with learning disabilities. For interventions, graphic organizers can be utilized as scaffolding supports to in aiding students in: 

    • Connecting ideas 
    • Create a sequence of events based on a text or story 
    • Create a visual organizer of thoughts and concepts 

    As one of the most used reading intervention tools on the Branching Minds’ platform, this tool is highly versatile and applicable to subjects outside of reading—including science, social students, and math. 

    ➡️ Related resource: 6 Research-Based Interventions for Writing

    Achieve 3000

    Achieve3000 is a computer-based reading intervention and support program that provides students with nonfiction text, differentiated to the student’s Lexile level. The program has support for students needing English language acquisition support, as well as ongoing assessment tools and adaptive content to adjust to a student’s progress in the program. 

    Unlike the other intervention programs on this list, Achieve3000 offers a free option on its platform. Although to access the most robust and evidence-based resources available, schools will need to purchase the paid version. 

    Achieve3000 qualifies for ESSA’s “strong” category based upon the results of a large, randomized controlled study of urban and suburban districts. This study focused on students in grades 6th-9th. Studies on students at the elementary level were smaller in scale and reported more minor impacts on reading progress. 

    With this data in mind, Achieve3000 is recommended for use at the middle and high school level for Tier 2 and Tier 3 intervention (and as a learning support at Tier 1). This platform can be used at the elementary level, but schools should ensure that they are following the Acheive3000’s implementation guidelines for early literacy

    Without a doubt, Achieve3000 has been a popular choice with many of Branching Minds’ partner districts. It also ranked as one of the most used reading intervention programs in 2020 on the BRM platform, similar to LLI’s ranking and a variety of other reading programs. 

    READ 180

    READ 180 is a paid, technology-based intervention program to support struggling students in reading comprehension. This program takes a blended learning approach to a reading intervention, where explicit instruction is combined with an adaptive computer program, independent paperback readers, and modeled reading tools. READ 180 is a subset of the wider intervention and curriculum materials offered by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

    This program provides intervention support for Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels and for students performing in grades 3-12. The READ 180 also has built-in resources for students needing English language acquisition support.

    READ 180 qualifies for ESSA’s “strong” category, based on a collection of studies of 8,700 adolescent readers, with the highest area of growth being in reading comprehension. 

    Free download - MTSS Intervention Process Flowchart

    Top Math Interventions Used in 2021


    IXL is an immersive K-12 intervention and learning support program that provides comprehensive, standards-aligned content for math, language arts, science, and social studies. This paid program includes personalized skills recommendations for students, continuous diagnostic tools and assessments, and data analytics. IXL provides resources for all tier levels. 

    As the second most-used reading intervention on the Branching Minds platform, it was the top used intervention for math. Ranked as “Moderate” based on ESSA standards, a series of non-experimental studies showed that schools using the IXL program had higher gains in Math and ELA test scores—compared to schools that were not using the program. 

    Math Manipulatives

    Math manipulatives were the top used math intervention tools in the Branching Minds library in 2021. This isn’t surprising—manipulatives were also ranked as the top used math tool in 2020. 

    These tools are typically used for grades K-8, but they can provide additional support for struggling learners at higher grade levels as well. Used at all tier levels, math manipulatives can be used in a whole class setting as a learning support during small group interventions and as additional support during targeted, individual interventions. 

    Research shows that using manipulatives in math, compared to abstract symbols, results in higher retention, problem-solving, transfer, and justification skills. 

    ST Math 

    ST Math is an online paid math intervention and support program that includes interactive visual instruction for math lessons, games, and activities to practice specific skills. In addition to these learning supports, ST Math also provides assessments and progress monitoring tools for educators—though this is recommended to be used in addition to norm-based assessments independent of specific intervention programs. 

    ST Math is primarily targeted for K-6 grades but has resources for higher grade levels and all tier levels. This program is ranked as “Moderate” based on ESSA standards, with most learning gains being supported by studies at the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th-grade level. While this program can be used as an intervention, it should be used as a supplement to a strong, differentiated core instruction–not a replacement. 

    Do the Math 

    Do the Math is a paid math intervention program for PreK-12th grade students. Do the Math provides math intervention through a conceptual learning framework, with built-in instructional supports, interactive games, differentiated lessons for core instruction, assessment tools, and an optional summer school intervention program. 

    Do the Math is meant to be a supplement for Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions in coordination with a strong core math curriculum and instruction at the Tier 1 level. Part of Heinemann’s offering of curriculum resources, Do the Math meets ESSA’s “Moderate” level of evidence after demonstrating a positive impact on third-grade students’ math performance in a quasi-experimental design study. 

    Provide Examples of Problems for Support on an Assignment 

    Provide Examples of Problems for Support on an Assignment is a math intervention strategy where a teacher provides scaffolding support for students in the form of models, visuals, and examples when presented with a mathematical problem. One of the most applied tools for math intervention plans on the BRM platform; this strategy was also featured as one of the top high-leveraged math strategies used by partner schools in 2020. 

    Appropriate for all grade and tier levels, this strategy allows teachers to provide additional problem-solving support in an area where a student may be struggling. Research supports the use of alternating example methods to help struggling math students. 

    Here is a breakdown of how this strategy works: 

    • Teachers create sample solutions for work examples to demonstrate during a lesson. 
    • These solutions are presented to students while they are working in small groups, one-on-one with an interventionist, or showcased on the assignment where students can refer back to the examples. 
    • Students begin by working in an alternating pattern, between already solved (worked) problems and new problems. 
    • As students grow comfortable with the problem-solving process, new problems are introduced, slowly removing the scaffold support of worked examples. 

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

    While this list is meant to provide insight into the most used reading and math interventions on the Branching Minds platform, many factors should be considered when selecting an intervention to support a student’s learning. 

    🚀 Selecting the Right Interventions to Boost Accelerated Learning

    Programs may appear as an easy “one-stop” solution to intervention, providing an alluring array of embedded assessments, individualized activities, and engaging games. However, we can sometimes fall into the fallacy of depending too much on intervention programs to provide adequate support for struggling students. 

    Intervention programs are only effective when implemented with fidelity—meaning that they accompany 

    • a strong core curriculum, 
    • explicit instruction by teachers and interventionists, and 
    • the opportunity to apply strategies and learning beyond the program context. 

    ESSA can be a great gauge of the research and evidence backing a particular intervention program, strategy, or tool. However, educators should dive deep into these studies to ensure that this intervention is appropriate for their learners. 




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    Tagged: Interventions and Learning Supports' Strategies

    April 19, 2022

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