Student and Teacher Perspectives

STARI has been proven to be effective.

In a 2013-14 randomized, clinical trial, STARI students outperformed control students in decoding, fluency, vocabulary, sentence structure, and comprehension.


Brief Program Overview


The Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI)

STARI is a literature-focused, Tier II intervention for students in grades 6-9 who read two or more years below grade level.

Using research-based practices and highly engaging texts, STARI addresses gaps in fluency, decoding, reading stamina, and comprehension, aiming to move struggling students to higher levels of proficiency at the end of one year. STARI actively engages students in discussions of cognitively challenging content aligned to the Common Core and other 21st century standards. Although STARI includes some instruction in decoding, it does not offer sufficient phonics support for students reading below a second grade level.

Key ideas:

  • Adolescent struggling readers need to work on both basic reading skills and the skills that underlie deep comprehension: academic language, perspective-taking, and critical reading.
  • Texts need to engage students with issues in their lives and in the world.
  • Peer talk about text can develop reading engagement, perspective-taking, and critical reading.

Each unit includes:

  • a full-length novel and a selection of poetry, short stories, and/or nonfiction;
  • texts that vary in genre and complexity and expose students to realistic reading demands for secondary school;
  • debate(s) related to the unit’s guiding question;
  • comprehension and decoding workbooks that guide partner work; and
  • daily lesson plans that help teachers deliver effective mini-lessons and lead guided reading discussion.


THE STARI TEAMDevelopment of STARI was led by Lowry Hemphill (Wheelock College) through a SERP collaboration with Harvard University and four Massachusetts school districts. The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305F100026 to the Strategic Education Research Partnership as part of the Reading for Understanding Research Initiative. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

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