The study was conducted in middle schools in the northeastern United States during the 2013-14 school year. Eight Title I schools from four school districts participated in the study, representing both urban and rural/suburban locales. The intervention occurred in school classrooms during an elective or remediation period within the school day.
All sample members were students in Grades 6 through 8, and all had scored below proficient on the 2013 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System English language arts assessment. At the time of assignment, 69.1% of intervention students were identified as low-income, 49.3% identified as European American, 19.3% identified as African American, 25.6% identified as Latino, 1.54% of the students identified as Asian, 0.5% of the students identified as Native American/Pacific Islander, and 3.9% of the students identified as Mixed/other. Additionally, 30.0% of intervention students were special education students and 13.0% were English learners, meaning at least 57.0% were general education students. At the time of assignment, 76.4% of comparison students were identified as low-income, 51.3% identified as European American, 20.0% identified as African American, 22.7% identified as Latino, 2.5% of the students identified as Asian, 0.7% of the students identified as Native American/Pacific Islander, and 2.9% of the students identified as Mixed/other. Additionally, 35.2% of intervention students were special education students and 18.5% were English learners, meaning at least 46.3% were general education students.
The Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI) is a reading intervention designed to increase reading engagement and skills among adolescents with reading difficulties. STARI focuses on essential reading skills such as decoding and fluency, while also teaching meaning-making strategies that are necessary for comprehension. STARI is primarily a reading curriculum, organized into a series of theme-based units that are chosen because they are of interest to adolescents and because they are relevant to adolescents' lives. The curriculum is composed of novels and shorter reading passages with a lexile level that is appropriate for students who have demonstrated low performance on reading achievement tests. STARI is also designed to promote social interactions that are necessary for student engagement. Specifically, STARI uses four types of peer collaboration: 1) partner-assisted fluency practice, reciprocal teaching of comprehension strategies, partner reading and responding to novels and nonfiction texts, and peer debate. Students received the intervention during an elective period or a whole-school intervention period. The intervention lasted an entire school year and was administered during an elective or remediation period between three and five class periods a week.
Comparison conditions ("business as usual") varied both across and within schools. Of the comparison group students, 70% received an alternative reading intervention. Some of these alternative interventions were designed by teachers in the schools, while others were proprietary interventions. Of the comparison group students, 30% received general academic support, such as a study skills course or state test preparation.
Support for implementation
Teachers attended a three-day summer institute as an introduction to STARI. Furthermore, they received regular in-class guidance from a project literacy coach, who observed, offered feedback, modeled instructional strategies, and provided email and phone consultation.
Additionally, the authors note that they evaluated the quality of the STARI implementation through data collection of both students and teachers. Implementation fidelity was operationalized using observational data from teachers' delivery of the intervention and students' engagement with the intervention.