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IES Grant

Title: Adapting STARI to Accelerate Student Reading Achievement in Middle Grades
Center: NCER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Troyer, Margaret Awardee: Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) Institute
Program: Leveraging Evidence to Accelerate Recovery Nationwide Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (09/01/2022 – 08/31/2024) Award Amount: $1,000,000
Type: Adaptation for Scaling Award Number: R305N220025

Co-Principal Investigator: Donovan, Suzanne

Related Network Teams: This project is part of the Leveraging Evidence to Accelerate Recovery Nationwide (LEARN) Network, which focuses on adapting and preparing to scale existing, evidence-based products that have the potential to accelerate students' learning relative to pre-pandemic rates of growth for the many learners enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12, postsecondary education, or adult education programs whose learning was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The LEARN Network includes the following other projects — Classwide Fraction Intervention with Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies to Support Learning Acceleration (R305N220008), Modifying an Evidence-Based Peer-Mediated Reading Program to Differentiate Instruction and Accelerate Learning Among Underrepresented Groups: Implementing PALS in the Rio Grande Valley (R305N220010), LEARN Network Lead (R305N220012), and Scaling Targeted Reading Instruction (TRI) to Serve Students Impacted by COVID-19: Digital Implementation of an Effective Intervention (R305N220013).

A Research Network involves several teams of researchers who are working together to address a critical education problem or issue. The objective is to encourage information sharing, build new knowledge, and assist policymakers and practitioners to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes. The LEARN Network will focus on adapting and scaling up existing, evidence-based products that have the potential to accelerate students' learning for the many learners enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to further adapt and assess the impact of the Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI) to respond to the urgent need to accelerate learning among middle grades students reading two or more years below grade level. The number of middle school students struggling with reading has grown significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The STARI program is designed to motivate students and to support the self-efficacy that will be critical to accelerated learning, and it has received the highest rating (ESSA Tier 1, strong) for evidence of effectiveness. The aims of this project are to identify barriers to uptake and implementation of the program, to develop the highest priority adaptations that address students' needs, and to test the effects of the adapted version of STARI on students' academic outcomes.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the team will identify adaptations required to improve marketability and remove barriers to adoption and implementation will be identified through investigations from three vantage points: (1) the state agencies that implement adoption policies and standards and establish communication pathways to districts and schools; (2) users and potential users of the program at the district, school, and classroom levels in geographically dispersed areas across the country; and (3) users at the district, school, and classroom levels in one high needs district. The team will undertake the highest priority adaptations that are feasible within the constraints of this project, and then will assess the effectiveness of the adapted STARI program for accelerating student reading growth.

Products and Dissemination: The team will produce an adapted STARI program, findings on the impact of the adapted program in one school district, findings regarding marketability for different target audiences (states, districts, schools), and an informed strategy for expanding the STARI market. The research team will conduct dissemination and outreach through existing and new channels developed through this project, collaboration with dissemination partners, peer-reviewed publications, and interaction via social media.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research will take place in urban middle schools in Washington, DC. Additional information gathering and data collection activities will involve educators from a sample of STARI users or potential users across the United States.

Population/Sample: Approximately 3200 students in grades 6–8 (roughly 500 to 550 students per grade and school year), who read 2 or more years below grade level in the partner district, will participate in the research. The student body of the district is comprised of 90 percent students of color and 73 percent students receiving free or reduced-price lunch. The network team will use de-identified data from a comparable number of non-STARI students in the same schools to determine impacts using a regression discontinuity design. As part of the investigation to identify implementation barriers and facilitators, the team will recruit a sample of STARI users and potential users (district- and school-level leaders, instructional coaches, and classroom teachers) from varied geographical areas.

Product: STARI is a fully developed, year-long, literature-based intervention for grades 6–8 that includes teacher lesson plans, student workbooks, and fluency passages. STARI curriculum materials are freely available for download as open education resources. An online STARI Professional Learning Series provides teacher development resources prior to and during the first year of implementation. The program will emerge from this project with adaptations intended to improve its marketability, implementation, and impact on student achievement.

Project Activities: In Year 1, the research team will identify adaptations to STARI through three activities: (1) an investigation of curriculum adoption state policies, standards, and pathways from State Education Agencies to districts and schools; (2) an investigation through surveys and interviews of uptake and implementation barriers and facilitators among stakeholders in a range of schools and districts that are implementing or considering implementing STARI; (3) a detailed investigation of one district that will be implementing STARI to collect contextualized data about implementation barriers and facilitators at central office, school, and classroom levels. Adaptations will be prioritized according to a roughly estimated rate of return, and the highest priority adaptations will be undertaken within the grant period to the extent possible. In Year 2, the research team will assess the effectiveness of STARI for accelerating student reading growth using a regression discontinuity design that will allow for comparison of students who participate in STARI with those who do not. The team will also compare current STARI students' growth trajectories with reading growth of middle school students in the same schools in 2017–18 and 2018–19, in order to analyze STARI's effectiveness as compared with pre-pandemic rates of growth.

Cost Analysis: The team will estimate costs for STARI using the "ingredients" method from both a societal and district perspective.

Related IES Projects: Catalyzing Comprehension Through Discussion and Debate (R305F100026)

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