[AAACE-NLA] STAR Struck!
Marcia.Hess at state.sd.us
Marcia.Hess at state.sd.us
Wed Feb 7 17:00:28 EST 2007
I appreciate Karen's comments. I know of very few trained reading
teachers (professionals) that are working with adults in Adult Education
and Family Literacy programs who focus on the intermediate level reading
student. Many teachers in Adult Education are part-time and may have a
college degree but no training in reading instruction. This was
certainly true in my state, South Dakota. STAR gave us the opportunity
to assist teachers in gaining the instruction and diagnostic skills
The highest dropout rate within Adult Education is at the Intermediate
levels 4-8.9 grade level equivalent. This is true of the national stats
and definitely true in my state. Teachers avoid teaching what they do
not know, feel they have no time to do, or are unable to diagnosis the
critical elements and correct.
Literacy Councils in my state focus on the new or beginning reader
(literacy levels up to about 4th grade level). There was a gap and we
chose to pilot the STAR project in my state. We taught our teachers
about alphabetics and fluency prior to the STAR project. The STAR
project took the teachers to a new level of diagnostics, gave them
support at they learned about the vocabulary and comprehension elements,
and gave a format for them to use with students. They are not receiving
Masters degrees in reading but they are receiving practical, hands on
assistance to move the students ahead. We have seen the results in
students moving up grade levels from the STAR strategies being applied.
This is the evidence I need to see. When a student is gaining
confidence and skill in reading and moving ahead, they become more
committed. Success breeds success.
I would echo Karen's teacher's comment. The teachers are not assigning
reading anymore, they are now teaching reading.
From: aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org
[mailto:aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org] On Behalf Of Karen
Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 3:01 PM
To: National Literacy Advocacy List sponsored by AAACE
Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] STAR Struck!
I have to say in STAR's defense that the techniques in the TOOLkit are
same ones collected together that most anyone who was seriously trying
to teach reading-- and willing to a little research on how it could be
done--would likely use. I don't think any reading professional looking
at the Toolkit would be a bit surprised at the content.
The important thing is, and what I think STAR most emphasizes, is that
reading needs to be taught. I was a bit involved in the first year of
the pilot, and I'll l never forget the moment when one of the teacher
participants said, "I used to assign reading; I teach it now." I'm
afraid that outside of literacy councils (and maybe inside, too) there's
still a whole lot of assigning going on.
Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council
100 Sheridan Square, 4th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
412 661-7323 (ext 101)
kmundie at gplc.org
GPLC - Celebrating 25 years of literacy, 1982-2007
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On Feb 6, 2007, at 6:41 PM, tsticht at znet.com wrote:
February 6, 2007
The Federal STAR (STudent Achievement in Reading) Project: Why Now?
International Consultant in Adult Education
Recently the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and
Education (OVAE), Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL)
the STAR web site and professional development activity. The web site
provides information about STAR:
Quote:"What is STAR?
STAR is a comprehensive toolkit and training package to help Adult Basic
Education (ABE) instructors use evidence-based reading instruction in
classroom. For more information, see About STAR.
What is the National STAR Training Network?
The National STAR Training Network (NSTN) encompasses national and state
experts in reading instruction, state and federal policymakers, and
practitioners. All are working in partnership with the U.S. Department
Education to use evidence-based reading instruction and the STAR model
improve adult reading. For more information see Contact the Network.
STAR delivers the tools and techniques teachers need to help adult
read and achieve."
In and of itself, the idea of tools and techniques to help adult
read and achieve is not very notable because there are already numerous
tools and techniques , commercial programs, etc. that aim to do the same
thing. But repeatedly the STAR web site says it aims at assisting adult
educators to use "evidence-based" reading instruction. It describes
"evidence-based" and says: Quote:"Evidence-based reading instruction
integrates findings from the best available reading research with
practitioner wisdom to inform instructional decisions. ...With EBRI,
use diagnostic assessment procedures to gauge the strengths and
of each learner and target reading instruction accordingly. ...Teachers
use EBRI help learners improve their skills in each of the four
of reading - alphabetics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension - by
explaining new concepts, modeling strategies, and providing feedback
However, the STAR web site provides no evidence that following its
evidence-based approach will improve adult reading instruction over what
already being done by adult literacy educators. I have searched for
scientific research indicating that a focus on alphabetics (code
in Jeanne Chall's terms) with adults with low literacy produced better
learning outcomes than some other, perhaps whole language (meaning
in Jeanne Chall's terms) approach. But I have found no such research.
such research is cited on the STAR web site, and the report on
of adult reading instruction that is mentioned does not include any such
The evidence that the STAR web site mentions also includes "professional
wisdom," however no citation of professional wisdom is given. I have
at historical approaches to teaching adults to read to find professional
wisdom in using either code or meaning emphases. Cora Wilson Stewart in
1911 and beyond did not like the alphabetics approach and clearly stated
that adults should be taught using the "word" approach. Reports of her
indicate that more than 180,000 adults learned to read following her
language" approach. But in World War I, J. Duncan Spaeth took a strong
alphabetics (phonics) approach to teaching reading to soldiers. Then in
World War II, Paul Witty took a strong "word", "whole language"
and indeed teachers in Special Training Units got demerits if they
emphasized phonics too much. It is reported that over a quarter million
soldiers learned to read using this meaning emphasis approach.
Septima Poinsette Clark favored a whole language approach in teaching
10,000 teachers to teach 700,000 adults to read and write to vote in the
early civil rights movement. Frank Laubach strongly favored a code
while Ruth Colvin, founder of Literacy Volunteers of America favored a
whole language approach (interestingly, Laubach and Colvin have merged
one organization, ProLiteracy Worldwide).
This type of variable historical data on professional wisdom, and the
of any solid research that I have found on the relative effectiveness
adults of the code or meaning emphases leaves me without any good data
help make decisions about the use of these two approaches. I know that
Jeanne Chall favored the code approach in her clinical work but her
reported gains did not seem to be much better, if at all better, than
other adult literacy programs reported. As I read the STAR web page, it
appears that the STAR approach has been developed in large part by
students of Jeanne at Harvard.
It seems to me that the evidence base for the effectiveness of the STAR
approach to adult literacy education is lacking, in both professional
wisdom and scientific research. It seems to me that the national
dissemination effort funded by the federal government is premature. I
that before such an expensive (over $31,400 for 45 adult educators)
dissemination effort is undertaken there should be research conducted to
show that the STAR approach is more effective than other approaches to
teaching reading with adults.
Too often national efforts by the federal government have been
and millions of dollars have been spent to disseminate the efforts, only
see them fade away with little apparent long-lasting improvement to the
Adult Education and Literacy System (AELS) of the United States. Will
go this way, too?
Whatever happened to the Adult Performance Level (APL) project?
Whatever happened to the Equipped for the Future (EFF) project?
Are we about to be STAR stuck!
Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
2062 Valey View Blvd.
El Cajon, CA 92019-2059
Tel/fax: (619) 444-9133
Email: tsticht at aznet.net
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