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Instructional interventionist 101

What is an instructional interventionist? 

An instructional interventionist teaches reading and math skills to students struggling with those foundational subjects, which are critical to their future success. These students are identified through standardized tests as at risk for future reading and math difficulties. 

Why isn't Metro or the state funding this position?

Funding is based on a formula determined by the state, which awards a certain amount of dollars per student. Though the state legally requires that all students receive intervention who need it, the state does not provide funding for these positions. 

We have supported this position through federal COVID-19 funding, which runs out after the 2023-24 school year. Unless we step up, we will lose this key position after this school year. 

My child doesn't need an interventionist. How do they benefit from this?

Every single child benefits from an instructional interventionist. Without one, your child’s primary teacher will need to devote classroom time to teaching students who need extra help. On average this means those students who meet or exceed grade level expectations will lose approximately 4 hours of direct instructional time per week from their teacher.

What happens if we unexpectedly receive state or local funding for this position?

Sadly, we do NOT anticipate this happening. But for the sake of “what ifs,” our school would LOVE to have at least two positions like this—one funded through the state and one funded through us. As it is, we have more students who need help than one interventionist can handle. 

Is there any data to show the benefit of an interventionist? 

Yes, in the first year our school had an interventionist 80 percent of students who worked with the interventionist improved their testing scores. Across the board, data also shows that early academic intervention decreases special education referrals and the number of students entering special education. 

How is this different than other specialists at our school?

We have amazing staff at our school who work with our children with diagnosed reading and learning differences. An instructional interventionist works with students who score in the 0-24th percentile and do not have an identified learning disability. 

Do other schools have instructional interventionists?

Yes, they do. For example, Julia Green and Percy Priest have four part-time interventionists—all funded through their PTO thanks to donations from families, businesses and friends. They are also common among private schools. 

New fundraising goals

What are our fundraising goals this year?

Our big goal this year is $120,000. We hope to raise $100,000 during our annual fall INVEST campaign, a.k.a. our Fun Run, and an additional $20,000 through some other fundraisers. 

What happens if we don't raise enough money to fund this position?

We will no longer have an instructional interventionist. This person’s work becomes the work of your children’s primary teachers, which means they have less time to directly focus on students who meet grade level+ expectations. 

How much should I give?

Give what you can and please keep in mind that not everyone in our Sylvan Park community can make a gift of any size let alone any of the suggested donation gifts. If you can make the minimum suggested donation amount ($250), please do! If you can do that AND support additional students—GREAT! Various suggested donation levels can be found online.

How did you come up with the suggested donation levels?

We did some basic math and are counting on those who can give more to give more! We have approximately 450 students, 14 percent of which the Tennessee’s Department of Education defines as economically disadvantaged. That leaves us with 387 students with families who could potentially make a gift of $250+, which alone would not be enough to make our goal. We also anticipate not everyone will or can give that much. Please give what you can, and if you can give more, give more! 

How much do other MNPS elementary schools raise during their fall Invest campaigns?

Many raise more during just their fall Invest campaigns alone. Julia Green raised $250,000+ last fall; Percy Priest raised $200,000+; and Lockland, a smaller school, raised $85,000.

Can we give more than the Panther Circle amount? 

Yes! Please give more if you can. 

Can I pay off my gift over a period of time?

Yes, you can fulfill a pledge over as many as three months. 

How can I encourage others to give?

We are looking for families and sponsors who want to double their investment and encourage others to give through challenge gifts. Here’s an example of a challenge gift: The XYZ family will give $2,500 if 50 percent of kindergarten families give by Oct. 2. You can do this anonymously as well. If you are interested in this, please email [email protected].

Can I make a matching gift through my company?

Yes, many companies will match their employees giving. Please look into your companies policies and reach out to [email protected] if we can help!

We can't afford to make the suggested donation or make a gift of any size. What can we do?

Many of us will not be able to make the suggested donation gift. Every single gift of any amount helps us reach our goal. For those of us who cannot make a gift of any size, we can still win a popsicle party for our kids’ classes, which will be given out based on participation only. Please go to the giving website and click the “I want to participate” option.

Just as important, we need to talk to our friends, family, neighbors and fellow Sylvan Park families about why it is so critical to keep our interventionist and get them excited to give!

We also need a TON of volunteers to help make this effort successful. Email [email protected] if you can help! 

Are you sure this is a good idea?

Is this what our teachers and administrators want?

Yes! Every teacher and administrator attended the budget meeting in the spring and listed this as a top priority. We’ve heard this from our kids’ own teachers directly, too. One even said, “I don’t need another gift card. I just need this position funded.” 

Ask them yourself, though. It will get you fired up to do this for them and our amazing students. 

Will this fall's Invest/Fun Run campaign only support the interventionist?

No. The majority will, but we still want to provide a few other priorities. For example:

  • Hardship funding (SSA, need-based field trip support, Valentine’s Day Candy Grams for those who wouldn’t otherwise afford to pass them out, etc.) 
  • Teacher appreciation (gift cards for wish lists, periodic catered lunches, etc.)
  • Community building activities (e.g. ice cream social, babysitting for open house, etc.)

Is this something we’d have to fund every year?

Yes. Unless the state changes its funding formula or decides to specifically fund this mandate, our community will need to fund this position, or we will lose this position and the benefit it brings to every single child in our school. 

What is the Fun Run and how does it relate to the INVEST campaign?

The Fun Run happens at school at the end of the INVEST campaign, which this year will be Thursday, October 5—the day before fall break begins. Kids run laps around the school playground, have fun and enjoy a popsicle. The Fun Run allows every kid to participate in this school-wide effort regardless of whether their families can make a gift during the INVEST campaign. Families can come, too, and cheer on their Panthers.

How else can we help?

How can grandparents, neighbors, other family members and friends help?

Please give! Encourage your families to contribute online, too. We also hope to do some outreach to our neighbors in Sylvan Park and Richland/West End, but this depends on volunteers. If you are interested in helping, please email [email protected].

What can we do to get Metro or the state to financially support reading interventionists in MNPS?

Email and call your state and local representatives! You can find your representatives online, but here they are for those who live in Sylvan Park:

This is also part of a larger effort to advocate for Tennessee’s public schools to receive more funding, particularly considering the state’s new third grade retention law. You can find more information about this effort here: