CARS & STARS Plus is a comprehensive reading program consisting of ten levels (P-H) that allows you to identify and teach twelve reading and comprehension strategies and improve literacy results.
The program is divided into two parts: CARS Plus (the assessment portion) and STARS Plus (the instruction portion). Each CARS and STARS Plus level (P-H) consists of both a Student Book and a Teacher Guide. View A Step-by-Step Guide to Implementing CARS & STARS for a PDF Printout or visit How it Works.
The two were designed to be used together. The Placement Book places students in the correct level. The Pretests in CARS Plus help teachers to diagnose problem areas with their students. STARS Plus assists teachers to teach those strategies found lacking. Benchmarking tests and Post Tests in CARS Plus are used to assess how goals are progressing and then to determine if goals have been achieved.
CARS & STARS Plus correlates to the Australian National Curriculum! Click here for Strategies and Correlations to the Australian National Curriculum.
CARS & STARS Plus is designed for students to stay on the same level for the entire year (until retesting the next year) and so throughout the year STARS instruction can be supplemented by EXTENSIONS in Reading (for students looking to further extend their knowledge) and FOCUS on Reading (for student needing extra practice on a specific strategy).
View the research on CARS & STARS Plus.
The CARS Plus Student Books consist of:
Five Pretests – The Pretests are given at the beginning of the year (after placing students in the correct level with the Placement Book). They are given one-a-day for five days to give the most accurate result. Learn more about the Pretest.
Five Benchmark Tests – The five Benchmark tests are longer reading passages than the Pretests, followed by multiple-choice questions, one for each strategy. These are given after every review in the STARS Plus Student Book and are a great way to gauge student understanding during the year to determine if more practice/instruction is needed. Learn more about Benchmarks.
Five Post Tests – The five Post Tests are given in the same manner as the Pretests after the final review in the STARS Plus Student Books. The Post Tests assess student mastery of the strategies. Learn more about Post Tests.
Self-Assessments – There are two self-assessments in the CARS Plus Student Book – one to be completed after completing the five Pretests and the other after completing the five Post Tests. These self-assessments give teachers a better idea as to what students were thinking when they completed the tests.
Individual Progress Chart – Each CARS Plus Student Book contains an Individual Progress Chart progress chart with three different blank bar graphs for students to fill in their results for the Pretests, Benchmarks and Post Tests. These give students a visual representation during pre testing- to show which strategies they need to focus on, during Benchmarks – to show how they are improving and what they need to continue working on, and then again at the completion of the post-tests to show how students have mastered each strategy.
Blank Answer Sheets
The STARS Plus Student Books contain:
12 Strategy Lessons - Each Lesson focuses on a single strategy and is broken into five parts (10 pages). Each lesson offers several modelling opportunities/graphic organisers, peer work, multiple-choice practice questions and more, providing a gradual release of responsibility and increase in confidence for the student.
4-Page Review Lesson – These reviews are cumulative and feature a reading passage followed by a multiple-choice question for each strategy. This is a great time to practise the strategies students have learned and then follow up with a Benchmark test in the CARS Plus Student Book.
Final Review - At the end of the STARS Plus Student Book is a 12-page, multi-passage review of all strategies where students read 4 passages and answer 48 multiple-choice questions on what they have learned. Following this review administer the 5 Post Tests from the CARS Plus Student Book.
Both CARS Plus and STARS Plus books include Teacher Guides as well as student workbooks.
The CARS Plus Teacher Guide includes: Definitions of Strategies; a Summary of Research; Teacher Assessments 1-3; as well as Pretest, Post Test and Benchmark answer keys.
The STARS Plus Teacher Guide is a comprehensive resource that walks you step-by-step through how to teach each STARS Plus lesson with additional features to help you along the way including:
Introducing the strategy
Model the strategy
Connecting with Literature
Each Teacher Guide also includes: a Suggested Pacing Chart; reproducible blank answer form; and completed answer form.
CARS & STARS Plus consists of ten levels (P-H) that allow you to identify and teach twelve reading and comprehension strategies:
Finding the Main Idea
Recalling Facts and Details
Recognising Cause and Effect
Comparing and Contrasting
Finding Word Meaning in Context
Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion
Identifying Author's Purpose
Interpreting Figurative Language
Summarising (Distinguishing Between Real and Make Believe in levels B and C)
The strategies are based on comprehension ability and so levels P and AA focus on only six of the above twelve (pre-reading and listening skills; visual and teacher-guided), level A focuses on eight, and levels B-H focus on all twelve strategies.
After providing a baseline with CARS Plus Pretests, STARS Plus books provide explicit direct instruction in the 12 reading comprehension strategies. Each strategy lesson is broken into five parts, providing a gradual release of responsibility for students:
Part 1: Modelled Instruction
Part 2: Guided Instruction
Part 3: Modelled Practice
Part 4: Guided Practice
Part 5: Independent Practice
Each STARS Plus lesson uses explicit instruction through the use of a definition, a reading strategy model, and learning objectives for each reading strategy. It also provides students with a range of sophisticated elements including higher-order thinking, varied text types and paired selections to assist with comprehension. Prominent graphic organisers provide another mode of access to understanding a reading strategy, through graphic representation – particularly helpful to ELL students because the text demand is lessened for students.
Differentiated instruction is an instructional approach that allows students of varying abilities to learn the same content. It is also one of the foundational strengths of the response-to-intervention (RTI) model of instruction.
Current research on education reform featuring the RTI model of instruction and data-driven instruction all single out differentiated instruction as being a key element of success. Because of varying language abilities, English language learners (ELL) especially benefit from differentiated instruction.
The STARS Plus Series provides explicit, detailed instructional suggestions for providing differentiated instruction. Teachers may differentiate their instruction either through reading strategies or through reading levels, which is a special benefit for struggling readers.
To allow for differentiated instruction by reading level, each level of the STARS Plus Series covers the same reading strategies in the same page order. Therefore, a struggling student may be able to receive the same reading-strategy instruction using a lower-level book as students who are using an on-level book.
NOTE: Because pre-reading levels P-A cover fewer strategies (P=6, AA=6 and A=8) they have reviews after every two strategies. Levels B-H cover 12 strategies and so have reviews after every 3 strategies. Therefore, levels P-A have strategies on the same page and levels B-H have strategies on the same page.
In addition to differentiating with STARS Plus books, if certain students are doing well, they can deepen their understanding with Extensions in Reading books. If students are struggling, they can get extra practice for each specific strategy in Focus On Reading books.
CARS & STARS Plus is designed to follow children from prep to year 9. However, depending on the reading level of your students, can be used right up until year 12. It is also a great resource for extended learning classrooms. Each level is a yearlong or term-long program structured to ensure students have a solid understanding of each strategy before moving on to the next level the next year. If students are doing well, they can work on Extensions in Reading books to further their knowledge of the strategies, and if they are struggling they can get extra practice on a specific strategy for their level in Focus On Reading.