Implementing Explicit Instruction with CARS & STARS

Implementing Explicit Instruction with CARS & STARS

A Comprehensive Guide for Teachers

Executive Summary

This guide provides a comprehensive approach for teachers to implement explicit instruction using the CARS & STARS program to enhance reading comprehension. It outlines steps from initial assessment to targeted teaching, continuous evaluation, and intervention. Key phases include setting clear instructional objectives, modelling strategies, guided practice, and independent application. The process ensures a structured and effective teaching environment, promoting significant improvements in students' reading skills. By following this methodical approach, teachers can effectively address and enhance literacy in the classroom, ensuring each student achieves their full potential in reading comprehension.

Explicit instruction is a proven methodology that enhances learning outcomes by teaching concepts clearly and systematically. The CARS & STARS program, a powerful tool for improving reading comprehension, fits well within this instructional framework. Here's a detailed guide on how teachers can effectively implement explicit instruction using the CARS & STARS program in their classrooms.

1. Understanding CARS & STARS

CARS (Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies) and STARS (Strategies to Achieve Reading Success) are designed to assess and improve students' reading comprehension skills. CARS helps identify which of the twelve reading strategies students need to work on, while STARS provides the resources to explicitly teach these strategies.

2. Initial Assessment with CARS

  • Administer the CARS assessments at the beginning of the school year to gauge your students' proficiency in various reading strategies.
  • Analyse results to identify areas of strength and weakness in individual students and the class as a whole.

3. Setting Up Explicit Instruction with STARS

Instructional Phases:
  1. Introduction of New Strategy: Begin with a clear explanation of the strategy, using examples and non-examples to illustrate. This makes the abstract concept tangible and understandable.
  2. Modelling: Demonstrate the strategy in action. For example, if the strategy is “Finding the Main Idea,” walk through a text with the students, showing how to pinpoint the main idea explicitly.
  3. Guided Practice: Work together with the students on several examples, gradually releasing more responsibility to them. Use questioning to guide understanding and correct misconceptions in real-time.
  4. Independent Practice: Allow students to try the strategy on their own with new texts, providing feedback and support as needed.
  5. Assessment and Feedback: Use various forms of assessment, both formal and informal, to check understanding and provide specific feedback for improvement.

4. Ongoing Assessment and Adjustment
  • Use regular CARS assessments throughout the year to monitor progress and adjust teaching strategies.
  • Implement benchmark assessments to test comprehension skills at several points during the school year, ensuring objectives are met.

5. Intervention with FOCUS on Reading

For students who continue to struggle, use the FOCUS on Reading product:
  • Identify specific needs with detailed assessments.
  • Tailor interventions specifically designed to address identified weaknesses.
  • Monitor progress closely, adjusting strategies as necessary.

6. Summative Assessments

At the end of a unit or year:
  • Conduct summative assessments to evaluate overall progress and effectiveness of instruction.
  • Compare initial assessments to final outcomes to gauge student improvement and instructional effectiveness.

7. Reflection and Planning for Future Instruction
  • Reflect on what worked and what didn’t, considering both teacher observations and student feedback.
  • Plan for future instruction, possibly adjusting the implementation of strategies or the focus of interventions based on overall student progress and specific needs.


By using the CARS & STARS program within an explicit instruction framework, teachers can significantly enhance their students' reading comprehension skills. This systematic approach ensures that all students have the support they need to succeed, from initial assessment to targeted instruction, and finally, to confident application. By following this guide, teachers can create a structured and effective reading program that delivers measurable results and fosters a deeper understanding and love for reading among students.


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