Intervention Strategies for Students at Risk

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Teens who are considered to be at-risk have a plethora of issues that need to be addressed, and learning in school is only one of them. By working with these teens by using effective intervention strategies for studying and learning, it's possible to help guide them on the right educational course.

Directions or Instructions

Make sure directions and/or instructions are given in limited numbers. Give directions/instructions verbally and in simple written format. Ask students to repeat the instructions or directions to ensure understanding occurs. Check back with the student to ensure he/she hasn't forgotten. It is a rare event for students at risk to be able to remember more than 3 things at once. Chunk your information, when 2 things are done, move to the next two.

Peer Support

Sometimes, all you have to do is assign a peer to help keep a student at risk on task. Peers can help build confidence in other students by assisting in peer learning. Many teachers use the 'ask 3 before me' approach. This is fine, however, a student at risk may have to have a specific student or two to ask. Set this up for the student so he/she knows who to ask for clarification before going to you.


The student at risk will need many assignments modified or reduced. Always ask yourself, "How can I modify this assignment to ensure the students at risk are able to complete it?" Sometimes you'll simplify the task, reduce the length of the assignment or allow for a different mode of delivery. For instance, many students may hand something in, the at-risk student may make jot notes and give you the information verbally, or it just may be that you will need to assign an alternate assignment.

Increase One to One Time

Students at risk will require more of your time. When other students are working, always touch base with your students at risk and find out if they're on track or needing some additional support. A few minutes here and there will go a long way to intervene as the need presents itself.


It helps to have a working contract between you and your students at risk. This helps prioritize the tasks that need to be done and ensure completion happens. Each day, write down what needs to be completed, as the tasks are done, provide a checkmark or happy face. The goal of using contracts is to eventually have the student come to you for completion sign-offs. You may wish to have reward systems in place also.​


As much as possible, think in concrete terms and provide hands-on tasks. This means a child doing math may require a calculator or counters. The child may need to tape record comprehension activities instead of writing them. A child may have to listen to a story being read instead of reading it him/herself. Always ask yourself if the child should have an alternate mode or additional learning materials to address the learning activity.


Tests can be done orally if need be. Have an assistant help with testing situations. Break tests down in smaller increments by having a portion of the test in the morning, another portion after lunch and the final part the next day. Keep in mind, a student at risk often has a shortened attention span.


Where are your students at risk? Hopefully, they are near a helping peer or with quick access to the teacher. Those with hearing or sight issues need to be close to the instruction which often means near the front.

Parental Involvement

Planned intervention means involving parents. Do you have an agenda in place that goes home each night? Are parents also signing the agenda or contracts you have set up? How are you involving parental support at home for homework or additional follow up?

A Strategy Summary

Planned interventions are far superior to remediation approaches. Always plan to address students at risk in your learning tasks, instructions, and directions. Try to anticipate where the needs will be and then address them. Intervene as much as possible to support students at risk. If your intervention strategies are working, continue to use them. If they're not working, plan for new interventions that will help students succeed.

Always have a plan in place for those students who are at risk. What will you do for the students that aren't learning? Students at risk are really students of promise -- be their hero.

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Your Citation
Watson, Sue. "Intervention Strategies for Students at Risk." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Watson, Sue. (2020, August 27). Intervention Strategies for Students at Risk. Retrieved from Watson, Sue. "Intervention Strategies for Students at Risk." ThoughtCo. (accessed September 28, 2021).