April, 2016

In this issue:

  • Significant Gains for Adolescent Readers with STARI
  • Join SERP at Harvard this Summer for STARI and Word Generation Professional Learning Opportunities
  • New York City's Middle School Quality Initiative Revives Science Fairs Using SERP Science Materials
  • U.S. Department of Education Launches Open Educational Resources Campaign


The Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI), a Tier 2 intervention program for middle school students reading 2-3 years below grade level, was tested in a randomized trial in four districts. STARI students outperformed students in the control group on all six RISE subtests, even though most control group students received other reading interventions. A sister program to Word Generation, STARI motivates student engagement through discussion and debate of cognitively challenging content. But it is also carefully structured to simultaneously build basic reading skills.

To make the results interpretable, control students’ scores on each battery were normed at the 50th percentile. STARI students scored an average of 8 percentile points higher than control students in both Efficiency of Basic Reading and Word Recognition, as well as 7 points higher in Morphological Awareness. STARI students substantially reduced the gap between their reading skills and those of classmates who scored proficient on the state reading assessment.

But the amount of the program students actually engaged with also mattered. After controlling for program exposure, the effect size increased substantially on all dimensions of the RISE. The intent-to-treat (ITT) results in blue show the effect size for all STARI students assigned to the program. The treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) results in red show the effect size when controlling for engagement with the program, as measured by the percent of workbook pages on which students had done any work. The effect size analyses also include scores on the GISA, a novel, deep comprehension measure recently developed by ETS as part of the IES Reading for Understanding initiative.

Development of STARI was led by Lowry Hemphill (Wheelock College) and the evaluation was led by James Kim (Harvard University) 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.




With support from the Simons Foundation, SERP has been upgrading and expanding Science Generation (SciGen) in collaboration with a group of middle school science teachers in San Francisco Unified and New York City’s Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI). This May, MSQI is leading its first inter-school science fair. SERP has created a special edition of the SciGen materials to orient students to methods for data collection, formats for experimentation, and generation of meaningful and original testable questions. MSQI Science Fair attests to the potential of partnerships to seize opportunities to innovate when funders stand behind them. Thank you Simons Foundation!


The U.S. Department of Education launched a campaign to promote the use of open educational resources (OERs) and has challenged a cohort of school districts to increase their use of openly licensed resources. The Department hired its first ever OER adviser, Andrew Marcinek, to lead the charge, helping both K-12 and higher education providers obtain available materials and encouraging the development of new open resources. The Department has launched the #GoOpen campaign on social media as a platform for teachers, school administrators, and resource providers to connect.

SERP is contributing numerous open resources, many developed with Department of Education funding, that meet the pressing needs of districts and are firmly rooted in research. Links to the materials are below. #GoOpen!


Word Generation Suite: Tier 1, cross content-area programs that support the development of academic language, argumentation, analytic reasoning, reading to find evidence, discussion, and writing.

  • WordGen Weekly (grades 6–8)
  • WordGen Elementary (grades 4–5)
  • Science Generation (grades 6–8)
  • Social Studies Generation (grades 6–8)

Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention (STARI) (grades 6-9): A rich, literature-focused, Tier 2 reading intervention for adolescents who are 2-4 years behind grade level.

Reading to Learn in Science: An online resource for elementary and secondary teachers that aims to improve students’ learning of science content by improving their ability to interpret science texts.


Poster Problems: Two-day lessons on critical math concepts, designed for diagnostic teaching and intended for use with 6th and 7th grade students.

AlgebraByExample: Algebra I problem sets incorporating worked examples that students are prompted to analyze and explain.

The 5x8 Card: A tool designed to help school principals with effective observations of CCSS-aligned math classrooms.

Tools for Sense-making in Mathematics: Effective strategies for prompting sense-making in mathematics, such as multiple representations, solution triangles, and the use of diagrams.

We encourage you to check out any or all of these freely downloadable resources at serpmedia.org

Strategic Education Research Partnership
Tel: (202) 223-8555
1100 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 1310
Washington, DC  20036
Email: info@serpinstitute.org