A Decade of STAR in Minnesota

A Decade of STAR in Minnesota

On June 1, 2018, active MN STAR leaders, managers, and teachers celebrated our 10-year anniversary. MN ABE’s partnership with the National STAR Project began in 2008. Since then, ATLAS has provided a decade of intensive trainings and trainer support that teach “ABE instructors to use evidence-based reading instruction [or EBRI, the foundation of STAR] in the classroom” (https://startoolkit.org). STAR aligns with a Workforce Opportunity Investment Act (WOIA) requirement to “incorporate the essential components of reading and disseminate information about models and promising practices, as they relate to adults and programs” (https://www2.ed.gov).

This summer article shares new STAR program or class, teacher, student, and volunteer stories of success. All fifteen were collected from STAR 18 managers or teachers (with some of their original wording revised for clarity or consistency). If you want to read many more MN STAR Stories of Success, go to the Reading resource library on the ATLAS website and click on the Professional Development tab on the right.

Program or Class Successes

  • Our ABE program had a year of upheaval; many changes in leadership and staff at several sites. As a result, mentoring and sharing just did not happen. STAR trainings gave me a framework to build on for next year. As we learned each new technique, I experimented to see how it played out with my class. I have a long summer of planning but feel equipped now to do so.
  • My STAR class routine encouraged students to ask for what they needed when they were unable to attend class.
  • Because of my STAR class routine, students anticipated instruction and took ownership of learning strategies. This allowed volunteers to step in each week.
  • Fluency book clubs created strong motivation in students to attend and participate in the STAR classroom.

Teacher Successes

  • Diagnostic reading assessment was making me incredibly anxious. However, my students and I became comfortable and the process now goes well (thanks to support from a colleague).
  • STAR gave me confidence as a teacher. I feel like I have a structure to my classroom that wasn’t present before. I now can group students for fluency with confidence and see progress in their abilities.
  • After practicing reading fluency all year, it was very rewarding to have students read with confidence in front of the class.
  • I totally redid the way I teach vocabulary. My students love the new direction and are excited and eager to learn and use new words. I feel both relief and confidence that I can offer meaningful vocabulary instruction.
  • A new teacher without any prior ABE classroom experience developed a foundation for reading instruction. She now has new knowledge, skills, and materials to help her move forward.

Student Successes

  • STAR students with good attendance are making level gains based on TABE Reading.
  • A STAR student was showing progress on CASAS Listening but not CASAS Reading. Her recent post-test score moved her into Level 6 of our program and this made her very happy.
  • Students tell me they appreciate syllabication; they find it valuable.
  • Almost all students progressed past needing alphabetics. One is now able to read street signs in the community and several gained 2-3 levels on TABE Reading.

Volunteer Successes

  • A faithful volunteer began a STAR phonics group. New students readily join after diagnostic reading assessment is completed. Before STAR, phonics was a need we missed.
  • A volunteer really engaged with our STAR program. He worked very diligently and thoughtfully with our highest fluency group. Several of his students made huge leaps in their reading skills.

STAR cohort trainings will not be offered during FY19 (2018-2019). Minnesota is transitioning to a new hybrid model developed by OCTAE and Project STAR. The content is acquired online, and implementation is supported by a community of practice and face-to-face meetings. HOWEVER, if your ABE program or region is interested in hosting an EBRI Study Circle (a tailored reading PD opportunity of 3 meetings over 3 months) during FY19, please contact Marn Frank to set one up!

Marn Frank, Literacy & STAR Coordinator ATLAS