Helping Teachers Reach For The S.T.A.R.S.

“My teacher does a lot of fun learning games with us to help us learn and get better at reading. We played a game where we say the name of pictures, listen for sounds in words and match it to other words that rhyme. We have to say the name of the pictures and match them with the words that sound the same. We can also practice during center time on the pocket chart. It is fun to do and makes learning it more interesting.”

The STARS initiative is making a significant impact on K-2 literacy education. Through the dedication and hard work of teachers, along with the generous support of The Jim Moran Foundation and TD Charitable Foundation, the program has reached over 1,500 students and numerous teachers, spreading its positive influence across multiple elementary schools in the School District of Palm Beach County. The program’s commitment to professional development and the implementation of research-based instructional strategies has resulted in remarkable student learning gains, with 81% (1,267/1,564) of students across five elementary schools demonstrating at least one year’s growth, according to the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST) for English Language Arts/Reading. This is a testament to the effectiveness of the STARS initiative in the 2023-2024 school year. It’s truly inspiring to see the passion and collaboration among educators, instructional coaches, school and district administrators as they work together to elevate literacy instruction resulting in 97% of teachers reporting an increase in understanding of the core curriculum and literacy instruction pedagogy and instructional strategies. The journey of the STARS initiative, from its inception to its expansion and the remarkable results achieved, serves as a shining example of the positive impact that focused and strategic support can have on student learning outcomes. This success story is a beacon of hope for the future of literacy education, showcasing the incredible possibilities when dedicated individuals come together with a shared vision for student success.

“After administering the STAR Early Literacy Assessment to my kindergarten students, I was surprised to see that every student tested below grade level proficiency in phonological awareness and phonics for a student entering kindergarten. The professional development (PD) provided by the STARS grant helped to increase my knowledge in the areas of phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This impacted the way that I planned instruction. The PD provided me with a scope and sequence of how to teach foundational skills. As I analyzed assessment data, I could now strategically group students and plan for differentiated instruction tailored to their individual needs. As a result of this work, 84% of the students showed an increase towards the targeted grade level benchmarks.”

-Elizabeth Moscoso, Pine Grove Elementary, Kindergarten  

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