Federal law (WIOA) requires that programs provide students at all levels, GLE 0–12, with the appropriate combination and level of essential components of reading instruction, based on the results of their individual diagnostic assessment and ongoing formative assessments. The four essential components of reading are:1
According to the WIOA Brief on the Essential Components of Reading, "these four reading components are the foundation of the ultimate goal of helping students learn from challenging, complex texts in postsecondary education and training and for lifelong learning, and that none of the four components alone is sufficient for instruction."2
The research shows that effective adult reading instruction is more nuanced than traditionally delivered in most adult basic education classrooms. For example, most, if not all, instructional decisions generally have been based on a single assessment, specifically a silent reading comprehension test, such as the TABE. The research, however, tells us that a single assessment provides an incomplete picture of a learner's strengths and weaknesses.
It is critical to assess a student's strengths and weaknesses in all four components for the simple reason that the strengths and weaknesses a student exhibits in one component affect his or her ability in the other components. Multiple short assessments provide more instructionally relevant information about a learner's needs.3 For example, a student who is not a fluent reader will likely have difficulty comprehending much of what he or she is reading. The poor comprehension is in part due to the lack of fluency. Helping a non-fluent reader to improve his or her fluency skills will also help raise that student's comprehension level.
Therefore, successful implementation of Evidence-Based Reading Instruction (EBRI) requires…
The STAR (Student Achievement in Reading) initiative is a national professional development (PD) program focused on using evidence-based reading instruction practices to build the reading skills of intermediate level (GLE 4–8) adults. The Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) of the U.S. Department of Education developed STAR in 2006 and continues to promote its use. Programs opting to use the STAR model must participate in the STAR training and complete all training components in order to maintain fidelity to the evidence base.
STAR is based on years of research in reading methodology which found that intermediate level adult learners struggle with one or more reading components: alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and/or comprehension. An EBRI approach requires teachers to use diagnostic assessments to identify their students' individual strengths and weaknesses and target reading instruction accordingly.
The STAR (STudent Achievement in Reading)* vision is to establish structures and practices at the classroom, program, and state levels to support evidence-based reading instruction that result in increased learner outcomes. STAR structures and practices include:
* This vision statement was developed by national STAR.
For more information on the STAR initiative, see
Questions? Please contact Dana Varzan-Parker, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Specialist in Adult and Community Learning Services.
1 Explanations drawn from National Research Council. (2012). Improving Adult Literacy: Developing Reading and Writing. A.M. Lesgold and M. Welch-Ross, Eds. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
2 WIOA Brief on the Essential Components of Reading
3 Kruidenier, J. R, MacArthur, C.A, & Wrigley, H.S. (2010). Adult education literacy instruction: A review of the research. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
Last Updated: September 4, 2019
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