Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI)

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Purpose of the Initiative

The Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI) was established by the 1997 Virginia Acts of Assembly, Chapter 924, Item 140, to serve either kindergarten or first-grade students to reduce the number of children with reading problems through early diagnosis and immediate intervention. During the 2000 General Assembly, this initiative was expanded to serve kindergarten through third-grade students. Participating school divisions must administer a diagnostic assessment to students identified as needing reading intervention at prescribed times in grades K-3. Since 2000, through a contract with the University of Virginia (UVA), the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) has been provided to school divisions at no charge to identify the students to receive reading intervention, while specifying the types of deficiencies to be addressed.

Legislation passed by the 2012 General Assembly (House Bill 1181) and budget language in the 2012-2014 biennial budget (Item 139) increased funding for EIRI to provide reading intervention services to 100 percent of eligible students in grade three prior to promotion to grade four. Previously, funding had been provided to serve 25 percent of eligible third-grade students. HB 1181 also specifies additional requirements pertaining to third grade students.

Legislation passed by the 2013 General Assembly (House Bill 2068) added kindergarten and grades one and two to the requirement that local school divisions provide early intervention services to students in grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on diagnostic reading tests.

“Local school divisions shall provide reading intervention services to students in kindergarten through grade three who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on the Standards of Learning reading test or any reading diagnostic test that meets criteria established by the Department of Education. Local school divisions shall report the results of the diagnostic tests to the Department of Education on an annual basis, at a time to be determined by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Each student who receives early intervention reading services will be assessed again at the end of that school year. The local school division, in its discretion, shall provide such reading intervention services prior to promoting a student from grade three to grade four. Reading intervention services may include the use of: special reading teachers; trained aides; volunteer tutors under the supervision of a certified teacher; computer-based reading tutorial programs; aides to instruct in-class groups while the teacher provides direct instruction to the students who need extra assistance; and extended instructional time in the school day or school year for these students. Funds appropriated for prevention, intervention, and remediation; summer school remediation; at-risk; or early intervention reading may be used to meet the requirements of this subdivision”.

“At the beginning of the school year, local school divisions shall partner with the parents of those third grade students in the division who demonstrate reading deficiencies, discussing with them a developed plan for remediation and retesting. The results of all reading diagnostic tests and reading remediation shall be discussed with the student and the student's parent prior to the student being promoted to grade four.”

To review the legislative and/or appropriations language for HB 1181 in context see item D.13 under § 22.1-253.13:1. of the Code of Virginia or item 139 of the budget bill for the 2012 Special Session I, respectively.

EIRI furnishes incentive funds for school divisions to provide identified students with additional reading instruction. Localities are obligated to match these funds based upon the composite index of local ability-to-pay. For more information on EIRI please contact Ellen Frackelton, Coordinator of Elementary Literacy and Reading by email at Ellen.Frackelton@doe.virginia.gov or by telephone at 804-418-4714.


Early Intervention: What Works?

Reports such as Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters (PDF), and Early Warning Confirmed (PDF) by The Annie E. Casey Foundation point to the importance of ensuring students are reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Therefore actions taken on behalf of students who are at-risk of not meeting this milestone take on greater urgency. But when it comes to early reading instructional interventions, what works?

The U. S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse provides information on evidence-based literacy interventions  . Best practice information on instructional interventions can be found in the Center on Instruction’s Practice Guide, Intensive Interventions for Students Struggling in Reading and Mathematics (PDF) .

Regardless of the intervention selected, experts agree that repeated and meaningful practice with the foundational components of reading, (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension) comprise the bulk of activities aimed at strengthening the reading ability of students who demonstrate weakness. Families will find resources such as the Virginia Literacy Partnerships Family Resources to be an integral part of providing vital foundational reading practice. Educator resources from Virginia Literacy Partnerships are also available.