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Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI)

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Program Description

Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI) is a supplemental, multicomponent reading intervention for middle school students who struggle with reading. The program incorporates components essential for skilled reading (e.g., decoding, fluency) while also teaching meaning-making strategies important for comprehension. It is designed to promote engaged reading, to connect reluctant readers with cognitively challenging texts and activities while simultaneously developing basic reading skills. STARI is organized into a series of thematic units chosen to be not only interesting but also of relevance and importance in young adolescents’ lives. STARI directly links work on component skills—decoding, fluency, and morphological analysis—with cognitively challenging unit themes. To promote interest and engagement, decoding and morphological analysis strategies are taught with words connected to STARI unit themes. STARI was designed to promote social interactions that foster student engagement. STARI uses four types of peer collaboration: partner-assisted fluency practice, reciprocal teaching of comprehension strategies, partner reading and responding to novels and nonfiction texts, and peer debate, in which teams gather text evidence and build arguments. In addition, peer contexts in STARI encourage students to articulate personal stances on a text and then compare their stances with those of partners or classmates.

Program Outcomes

One student randomized study examined the efficacy of the Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI). Within 8 Title 1 schools, in a mix of urban and suburban/rural settings, 483 6th-8th grade students scoring below proficient on the MCAS were randomly assigned to a business-as-usual control condition or to the Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI). Certified teachers were recruited from participating schools to implement STARI instruction and received training during a 3-day summer institute and feedback from literacy coaches throughout the intervention. Students received STARI during an elective period or whole-school intervention period. The number of class periods per week for STARI ranged from three to five. STARI was taught for the entire school year. After one year, student performance was measured with the Reading Inventory and Scholastic Evaluation (RISE), now renamed the ReadBasix. STARI students scored significantly higher on measures of word recognition (Cohen’s d = +0.20), efficiency of basic reading comprehension (Cohen’s d = +0.21), and morphological awareness (Cohen’s d = +0.18), qualifying STARI for an ESSA Strong rating.

Staffing Requirements

One or more teachers must be trained to implement STARI. STARI is a teacher-led program, and the program’s success relies on the teacher’s ability to facilitate discussion and build a strong classroom culture. The curriculum is clearly laid out, and the professional learning is comprehensive, so teachers from a variety of backgrounds have demonstrated success with STARI. It is not necessary for the teacher to be a licensed reading specialist.

Professional Development/Training

SERP offers an online professional learning series that provides opportunities for teachers and coaches to explore STARI practices and skills and learn to implement STARI effectively. Sessions include videos, readings, hands-on activities, and much more. The series is entirely online and asynchronous, but educators are encouraged to engage with the series in collaborative teacher teams where possible.

This series is designed to fit into professional development structures that are already in place. Therefore, the training is organized into sessions to be completed during the summer and over the course of the year. It is estimated that the STARI Professional Learning Series will take approximately 20 hours, with about 8 hours intended for before implementation (Sessions 1-6) and the rest spread across the year (1-2 hours/month).

Upon completion, a certificate is provided that may be used for professional development credits in districts that provide them. The cost of an individual teacher license starts at $375, with volume discounts for teacher teams.


No technology is required for students to engage with STARI.