Archived Information

Tried and True: September 1997--The information in this publication was current as of September 1997, and has not been updated since. Some services described in the publication may no longer be available.
[Instructional Content and Practice]

Strategic Teaching and Reading Project (STRP)


An Instructional and Professional Development Program
for Kindergarten Through 12th Grade Designed To Improve
Students' Reading

Developed and tested by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL)

What is the idea behind STRP?


After nearly two decades of sinking scores, researchers and expert practitioners concluded that students and their teachers need alternatives to the standard approaches to reading instruction. Partly in response to these needs, and partly because of growing evidence that skills-based curricula were not sufficient in helping students learn reading comprehension, the concept of an interactive, or strategic, approach to reading was born.

An interactive or strategic view focuses on reading not as the application of a set of skills, but as a process of constructing meaning. Constructing meaning begins before the reader actually engages in sustained reading, and it continues after the sustained reading stops. The reader links information in the text to his or her prior knowledge, then uses a repertoire of strategies to construct meaning.

The Strategic Teaching and Reading Project (STRP) grew out of this strategic reading concept. The project's objectives were (1) to improve reading instruction in all classrooms through sustained staff development, and (2) to improve the reading abilities of all students, at all levels, thus increasing reading skills across the content areas and promoting literacy as a lifelong goal.

To achieve these objectives, STRP focuses on professional development and is based on the premise that teachers must receive training and support in strategic teaching in order to help students become strategic readers and learners themselves. Research has indicated that effective and ongoing professional development is one of the key elements of effective teaching.

STRP views staff as lifelong learners who recognize the instructional benefits of constant exposure to new learning and, therefore, take responsibility for

Essentially a combination of professional development and classroom intervention, STRP has at its core five strategies:

  1. the use of prior knowledge,

  2. text structure,

  3. word meaning, and

  4. inferencing, with

  5. meta cognition integrated throughout the process.

These five strategies provide common tools within a framework for improved instruction in the content areas. STRP facilitates the team approach, which spreads the demands of instructional leadership among team members, builds on areas of expertise, fosters collaboration, and reduces threats to the continuity of the project that can come from staff turnover.

What does research say about how this idea can help teaching and learning?


The value of the skills-based curricula came under scrutiny a number of years ago. One important study involved observations of comprehension instruction in grades three through six. According to this study, teachers were, in fact, not directly instructing students in comprehension skills, but were merely mentioning those skills. Moreover, teachers were not instructing students to practice new skills nor were they assessing whether students used the skills properly. The study suggested that extensive use of skills-based curriculum does not help students learn what the comprehension skills are, how they should be applied, or why and when they should be used.

After years of research, today we know that

We also know that

Significantly, in the Handbook of Research on Improving Instruction in Student Achievement, the Alliance for Curriculum Reform identifies strategic reading and writing as a solid, research-tested way to improve youngsters' reading achievement outcomes.

How was this program tested?


STRP was developed by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Educational Communication Board, and 17 rural Wisconsin schools where the project initially was pilot tested.

The results of these tests showed a positive difference in the participating students, staff, and schools. For example, analysis of classroom practice indicated that the longer teachers were in the project, the more strategically they taught. More important, third grade STRP students scored as much as four-tenths of a standard deviation higher on the strategy sub-scale of the Wisconsin Third Grade Reading Test than third graders in comparison schools.

Subsequent evaluations across a broader range of 33 urban, rural, and suburban schools and various types of students indicate that students in STRP schools scored higher than students in contrast schools at both elementary and high school levels. On average across the tasks, 40 percent of STRP students scored in the two highest rating categories (proficient and advanced), while only 14 percent of the contrast students scored in these categories. Only 19 percent of the STRP students scored in the lowest rating category (below basic), while more than half (56 percent) of the non-STRP students scored at this level.

In addition, STRP students performed significantly higher on open-ended tasks that required them to interpret, link text to personal experiences, summarize, and provide supporting evidence from the text. STRP students mediated their own comprehension--that is, they were aware when they understood or misunderstood much more frequently than were their counterparts.

After approximately 10 more years of pilot testing, revision, and refinement, NCREL has made the Strategic Teaching and Reading Project available to all schools nationwide.

What communities and states are using this program?


Over 135 schools and school districts and more than 1,100 K-12 teachers in 13 states use STRP. The following information highlights schools, districts, or other agencies that have made a major commitment to STRP :

What's involved in using this program in my school and community?


The Strategic Teaching and Reading Program consists of the following materials and services:

Costs associated with implementing this program vary, depending on the components of the program being used.

Contact

Joseph J. D'Amico
NCREL
1900 Spring Road, Suite 300
Oak Brook, IL 60521-1480
Phone: (800) 356-2735, ext. 3030
Fax: (630) 571-4716
e-mail: damico@ncrel.org
Internet: http://www.ncrel.org

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