CARS & STARS How It Works


STEP 1   The Placement Book

The Placement Tests help identify each individual student’s general comprehension level and place students on the correct CARS & STARS® level for their ability. This will mean that a class may consist of multiple, different CARS & STARS® levels, however the program was developed for this and makes it easy to teach multiple levels in one class. Do the Placement Book either at the end of the previous year or at the beginning of the next year. You need to know what levels your students are on so that you know which books to order.

How to do the Placement Test:

  • Choose a level with text appropriate to your student’s comprehension level.
  • Have your student take the chosen level placement test.
  • From Level B–H, if the student gets fewer than 6 correct, have them take the placement test for the level below. If they get 11 or more correct, have them take the placement test for the level above. When your student achieves 6–10 correct, they are on the correct level. For level A, students must get 5–6 correct, and for level P and AA students must get 6 out of 6 before moving up. Each student should complete at least three placement tests to ensure that the correct level of understanding has been determined. Students remain on the same level for the year.

Other programs such as Focus can be used to provide additional in-depth practice for learning support for struggling students. For students at a more advanced level, teachers can use Extensions to expand student practice and to ensure all students in the class continue to be challenged.

NOTE: If a student is on level A in CARS®, they should also be on Level A in STARS®. See the STARS® Plus Teacher Guide for more information.

STEP 2   Diagnose with CARS® Plus

Administer the five pre-tests in the CARS® Plus Series to diagnose the understanding of the strategies for each student at their level. This should be done one per day, preferably consecutively, or as quickly as possible. Teachers ask the students to read the text, answer the multiple-choice questions and fill in the answer sheet at the back of the book. The teacher corrects the test orally and the students shade in their Student Progress Chart (page 3) in their CARS® Plus Student Book if they get the strategy correct. This is followed by a 10-minute discussion on why there is only one correct answer. Approximately 30–40 minutes after completing all five pre-tests, the students then complete their self-assessment, which is on the back of the answer sheet that is torn out and handed to teacher. This self-assessment tells teachers how students felt completing the five pre-tests.

STEP 3   Instruct with STARS® Plus

The STARS component is the individualised, differentiated, explicit teaching of the strategies at the student’s level of understanding. These are targeted, scaffolded comprehension lessons for the 6–12 comprehension strategies. Each strategy comprises five lessons offering multiple learning opportunities using a wide variety of genres. Comprehensive Teacher Guides provide ample instructional support.


Student Book:

  • Lessons
  • Strategy Reviews


Teacher Guide:

  • Overview
  • Lesson Plans
  • Answer Forms
  • Answer Keys

STEP 4   Benchmark/Progress monitoring

The Benchmark Tests are used to monitor progress to see if the student has understood the strategy in the STARS Plus program. There are five Benchmark Tests to use while teaching the STARS Plus strategies and the results serve as an indicator for the teacher to use Focus as an intervention if a student requires additional support.

Each Benchmark test requires between 45-60 minutes to complete, correct and discuss. These results are recorded in the CARS Plus books, on page 3 in the progress chart, they provide another indicator of your student's progress and it identifies students who have not understood the strategy.

STEP 5   Assess mastery with CARS® Plus

Upon completion of the STARS Plus lessons, after students have completed  the Final Review, administer the five Post Tests in the same manner you administered the 5 Pretests -  over a period of 2 weeks. At the completion of  each of the 5 tests, correct orally and discuss. Have the students fill in their Student Progress Chart in their CARS Plus Student Book Page 3  with their results, then complete their Self-Assessment 2 and hand it to the Teacher with their answer sheet. Using the student's Self-Assessment and answer sheet, complete your choice of Teacher Assessment 1-3 in the Cars Plus Teacher book  (for student discussion/goal setting  or, if using CARS Plus Online Teacher subscription, Teachers record the results of the Pre tests, Benchmarks Tests and Posts Tests for detailed reports.  Have students take note of their Student Progress Chart to see which strategies they were strong in when they started, where they improved during the Benchmarks and which ones they mastered at the end of the year.

NOTE: Self-Assessments 1 (completed after the Pretests) and 2 (completed after the Post Tests) in each CARS® Plus Student Book require about 20 minutes each for completion. They should be completed no more than one or two days after the Pretests or Post Tests have been completed.