Skip Navigation

Follow us on:

Ask A REL Response

August 2020


What research has been done to ascertain the percentage of time a literacy or reading interventionist should spend with students as opposed to time they are spending on other duties?


Following an established REL Southeast research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles to ascertain the percentage of time a literacy or reading interventionist should spend with students as opposed to time they are spending on other duties. We focused on identifying resources that specifically addressed the percentage of time a literacy or reading interventionist should spend with students as opposed to time they are spending on other duties? The sources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic research databases, and general Internet search engines (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response. We offer them only for your reference. These references are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. Also, we searched the references in the response from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

  1. Bean, R. M., Kern, D.,Goatley, V., Ortlieb, E., Shettel, J., Calo, K., Marinak, B., Sturtevant, E., Elish-Piper, L., L'Allier, S., Cox, M. A., Frost, S., Mason, P., Quatroche, D., & Cassidy, J. (2015). Specialized literacy professionals as literacy leaders: results of a national survey. Literacy Research and Instruction, 54(2), 83-114.
    From the abstract: "This large-scale national survey of specialized literacy professionals was designed to answer questions about responsibilities, including leadership, and preparation for these roles. Questionnaires, completed by over 2,500 respondents, indicated that respondents had multiple responsibilities that included both instruction of struggling readers and support for teachers. Four distinct role-groups were identified: instructional/literacy coaches, reading/literacy specialists, reading teachers/interventionists, and supervisors. The findings indicated a need for more precise definitions of the roles of these professionals and for preparation programs to include experiences that address the tasks required. Themes discussed included: roles have changed and require more focus on leadership, specialists must be nimble, and they require more in-depth preparation to handle the leadership demands of their positions."
  2. Deussen, T., Coskie, T., Robinson, L., & Autio, E. (2007). "Coach" can mean many things: Five categories of literacy coaches in Reading First (Issues & Answers Report, REL 2007– No. 005). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory.
    From the abstract: "One of the largest initiatives using coaching has been Reading First, a federal project whose purpose is to improve reading outcomes for students in lowperforming K-3 schools. The present study addressed two questions: (1) Who becomes a reading coach, and what background, skills, and qualifications do coaches bring to their jobs? and (2) How do coaches actually perform their jobs? That is, how do they spend their time, and what do they see as their focus? The research answers these questions with data from and about Reading First coaches. The answers are relevant for Reading First-- which includes about 1,550 districts and 5,200 schools across the nation. They are also relevant for the many other schools and districts emulating Reading First. Simply knowing that literacy coaches are in schools does not imply anything about how those individuals spend their time--there is a difference between being a coach and doing coaching. The researchers identified five categories of coaches: data-oriented; studentoriented; managerial; and two teacher-oriented categories, one that works largely with individual teachers; and another that works with groups. The article begins by describing what the literature says about coaching and coaching. It defines coaching and explains what coaches do besides coaching, how coaching affects teachers and student achievement, and how coaching is done in the Reading First program. The article then details the findings of the present study which builds on the findings of the previous literature and looks at who becomes a Reading First coach and how coaches actually spend their time. Methods are presented in an appendix. (Contains 9 tables, 1 box, and 3 notes.) [This report was prepared for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education by Regional Educational Laboratory Northwest administered by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.]"
  3. Kissel, B., Mraz, M., Algozzine, B., & Stover, K. (2011). Early childhood literacy coaches' role perceptions and recommendations for change. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 25(3), 288-303.
    From the abstract: "In recent years, literacy coaches have emerged as an integral part of a school's literacy team. Although current research on literacy coaching examines the work of coaches at the elementary and middle/secondary school levels, little research exists on the roles and perspectives of early childhood literacy coaches. This study sought to fill that gap by examining the current priorities of 20 early childhood literacy coaches and their recommendations for enhancing their roles as literacy coaches. We found that early childhood literacy coaches identified serving as content expert, promoter of selfreflection, and professional development facilitator as high priorities for their current work. They identified facilitator of the school-wide literacy community as a low priority. (Contains 2 figures and 1 table.)"
  4. Mangin, M. M. (2009). Literacy coach role implementation: How district context influences reform efforts. Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(5), 759-792.
    From the abstract: "Purpose: This study examines the outcomes of one regional intermediate school district's effort to promote literacy coach role implementation in its 20 constituent districts. The findings from this study provide information about the kinds of district-level contexts that influenced literacy coach role implementation and how those contexts were influential. Research Methods: Data were collected from 20 districts that participated in a literacy coach training program provided by the regional intermediate school district. Interviews were conducted in spring 2007 with assistant superintendents or their designees. Findings: Districts' implementation of literacy coach roles was influenced by four contextual factors: state and national reform, finances, student performance data, and existing roles and programs. Variations in these factors were associated with differences in districts' implementation of literacy coach roles. Implications: This study has implications for how districts understand their role in relation to schools and the implementation of reforms. (Contains 3 tables and 3 notes.)"
  5. Mraz, M., Algozzine, B., & Watson, P. (2008). Perceptions and expectations of roles and responsibilities of literacy coaching. Literacy Research and Instruction, 47(3), 141-157.
    From the abstract: "Having specialists in schools providing guidance for classroom teachers and addressing students' literacy issues is widely accepted. The roles these educators fulfill have changed over the years and the expectations of the role differ among professionals providing and receiving services. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of principals, teachers, and school-based literacy specialists on how literacy coaching can be effectively used and to consider the implications of these perceptions and expectations in terms of the potential for coaching to contribute to the development and implementation of effective literacy programs. We found few differences in responses among the professionals we surveyed; however, outcomes from interviews presented a somewhat different picture. Responses to interview questions indicate that the role of the literacy coach is currently open to much interpretation on the part of principals, teachers, and the coaches themselves. Participants consistently expressed the desire to establish and clearly communicate the literacy coach's schedule of activities, and to offer opportunities for coaches to apply and enhance their specialized training. (Contains 2 tables.)"
  6. Savitz, R. S., & Rasinski, T. (2018). What role do we expect secondary master reading teachers to play? Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, 91(2), 72-77.
    From the abstract: "In this article, we explore and identify the varied roles that have been assigned over time to the master reading teacher at the secondary level. Despite the fact that there are fewer master reading teachers (MRTs) at the secondary level, they are often required to take on even more responsibilities than MRTs at the elementary level. Secondary MRT roles have included working as a reading interventionist and instructor, reading coach, and school liaison to homes and community. Additionally, secondary MRTs also take on the role of content/disciplinary reading expert. Based on our literature review, we argue that the wide-ranging and multi-faceted roles assigned to the secondary MRT may not be the best deployment of responsibilities. We suggest that the roles of the secondary MRT be re-examined for the purpose of defining specific and limited roles and responsibilities to be assigned to these professionals so as to maximize their effectiveness within those identified domains of responsibility."
  7. Walpole, S., & Blamey, K. L. (2008). Elementary literacy coaches: The reality of dual roles. Reading Teacher 62(3), 222-231.
    From the abstract: "The authors of this article state that, as literacy coaches negotiate complex tasks in their work with teachers, they assume dual roles. The authors review the evolution of International Reading Association (IRA) standards, paying particular attention to the roles of literacy coach and literacy coordinator. The authors then present data on the coaching roles reported by a group of principals and coaches working in professional development together, but then enacting their own school-level initiatives. These data indicate that principals see coaches either as mentors or directors, and coaches in both categories define their jobs to include assessment, formative observation, modeling, curriculum management, training, and teaching. Finally, the authors provide a call for flexible models for defining the coach's role in a specific school. (Contains 1 figure and 1 table.)"


Keywords and Search Strings
The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Percentage of time a reading interventionist should spend with students
  • Responsibilities of literacy specialist
  • Reading coach, time management
  • Professional development teacher performance
  • Literacy interventionist; role and responsibilities

Databases and Resources
We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published for last 15 years, from 2003 to present, were include in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations, academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types - randomized control trials,, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc. (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast at Florida State University. This memorandum was prepared by REL Southeast under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0011, administered by Florida State University. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.