What is instructional intervention?

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

At a glance

  • Instructional interventions help struggling students and measure their progress.

  • Interventions use a specific program or set of steps to target an academic need.

  • They’re often used to help kids who have trouble with reading or math.

When kids are struggling with subjects like reading or math, schools may provide what’s called an instructional intervention. This is more than a bit of “extra help.” It’s a specific program or set of steps to address an academic need. (It’s sometimes called an academic intervention.) 

Instructional interventions are set up in ways that help track progress. The interventions are:

  • Intentional: They’re aimed at a particular challenge.
  • Specific and formalized: They last a certain number of weeks or months, and progress is reviewed at set intervals.
  • Flexible: If a program isn’t helping, the school can add more instruction time each week. Or it can add more intense support, like moving from small-group to one-on-one help.

If students need more and more intense interventions, it can be an early sign of learning differences. It can also help schools determine who qualifies for special education.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.