“SERP field sites are structured as a set of three closely connected, and partially overlapping, groups: The Core Group, The Design Team, and the Research Team.”
Boston Field Site
Current Research Collaborations
How can we provide comprehensive reading support while allowing students to stay on track with credit accumulation?
A multi-year collaboration between SERP, BPS, the Boston Plan for Excellence, and faculty from Wheelock College and Harvard University is producing the STARI (Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention), aimed at accelerating reading fluency; learning to decode words with challenging spelling patterns; and developing comprehension strategies, all the while delivering core content that meets state and district standards.
Timeline: 2009 to present
Lowry Hemphill, Wheelock
James Kim, Harvard
The STARI is a year-long, literature-based reading intervention that can serve as an alternative English Language Arts class for eighth or ninth graders who read three or more years below grade level. STARI instructors teach reading skills while also delivering core content that meets state and district standards. Unlike supplemental reading programs, the STARI delivers comprehensive reading support while allowing students to stay on track with credit accumulation. Accessible texts are chosen for the course from young adult fiction that reflects students' backgrounds and experiences and from related non-fiction sources that provide background knowledge and vocabulary. Student goals include accelerating reading fluency; learning to decode words with challenging spelling patterns; and developing comprehension strategies. Schools select students for participation based either on RISE data, or on existing assessment data, such as state test results. Middle school teachers with ELA credentials are eligible to teach the STARI if they participate in SERP-sponsored professional development and coaching.
The STARI was developed in response to the Boston Public Schools' (BPS) request for an intervention for struggling middle school readers lacking the basic reading skills that are taught in elementary school and required for success in middle school and beyond. The STARI grew out of a multi-year collaboration between SERP, BPS, the Boston Plan for Excellence, and faculty from Wheelock College and Harvard University. Student score profiles on the RISE provided the impetus for the program's development, and helped to shape the intervention.
The STARI has thus far been piloted in five schools for a single semester. Participants were 8th and 9th graders in regular, special, and ELL education programs with appropriately low test scores. Students were randomly assigned to either intervention or comparison groups with the RISE serving as the pre- and posttest, but the informal nature of a pilot study was accompanied by student movement in and out of classes. Teachers who provided the intervention were receiving concurrent professional development, delivered as a credit-bearing course. Early results show positive, statistically significant gains; however second semester materials will need to be developed, and implementation extended across an entire year before the model is adequately tested.
Advanced Development and Piloting. Plans are underway to expand to a full year curriculum, provide a more robust set of supports for teachers, and develop versions for, 6th, and 7th grade struggling readers.
The continued development will occur in the context of Catalyzing Comprehension through Discussion and Debate (CCDD), funded by the U.S. Department of Education, IES.