StarrMatica has been awarded a USDA SBIR Phase I Grant to develop and research a software platform that houses customizable K-5 digital science informational texts.
One of the cornerstones of a quality education is the ability to read and comprehend informational texts. School and career success depends on our ability to comprehend informational texts. Yet, nearly 44 million American adults cannot extract a single piece of information when they read an informational text if background knowledge is required. The results of the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that nearly 2/3 of American fourth-graders can only read at or below a proficient level, and when examined further, researchers found that on the 2009 NAEP test, fourth-grade students scored worse on informational texts than on literary passages—with students eligible for free lunch scoring the worst on informational texts. Because beginning readers are exposed to primarily literary texts, when students enter fourth grade and begin to read more content area informational texts, they have difficulty with comprehension. Comprehending informational texts requires a different set of strategies and skills than they have previously developed.
Knowing this research, the writers of the Common Core have asked teachers to spend 50% of their ELA instructional time with informational texts; however, teachers often don’t have enough informational text resources in their classrooms to meet this requirement. Being former teachers, we saw this problem and wanted to help.
StarrMatica’s grant will fund the creation of a platform that houses K-5 science informational texts to meet the Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers will have the ability to customize each text to teach specific text structures, print features, graphic aids, comprehension skills, and Common Core ELA standards at multiple Lexile reading levels. These customization options will allow teachers to differentiate comprehension instruction to meet the needs of all students and to support a variety of instructional objectives. The System will be designed to both teach and assess comprehension skills and will be tied to a classroom-management system that records student data.
StarrMatica’s Customizable Informational Text System is expected to 1) allow K-5 teachers to more easily integrate informational texts into their science instruction, 2) make it easier to customize those texts and the accompanying reading comprehension instruction for students with different learning needs, and 3) integrate Common Core-aligned ELA instruction with NGSS-aligned science instruction.
The prototype will be ready for testing in early January and the full product is expected to be ready in 2019. If you would like more information about this project or to be included as one of the prototype test classrooms, please contact us!