STAR Early Literacy Review

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STAR Early Literacy is an online adaptive assessment program developed by Renaissance Learning for students typically in grades PK-3. The program uses a series of questions to assess a student’s early literacy and early numeracy skills through a simple process. The program is designed to support teachers with individual student data quickly and accurately. It typically takes a student 10-15 minutes to complete an assessment and reports are available immediately upon completion.

There are four parts to the assessment. The first part is a short demonstrative tutorial that teaches the student how to use the system. The second part is a short practice component designed to ensure that the students understand how to manipulate the mouse or use the keyboard correctly to answer each question. The third part consists of a short set of practice questions to prepare the student for the actual assessment. The final part is the actual assessment. It consists of twenty-nine early literacy and early numeracy questions. Students have one and a half minutes to answer each question before the program automatically moves them to the next question.

Easy to Set up and Use

STAR Early Literacy is a Renaissance Learning program. This is important because if you have Accelerated Reader, Accelerated Math, or any of the other STAR assessments, you only have to do the set up one time. Adding students and building classes is quick and easy. You can add a class of about twenty students and have them ready to be assessed in about 15 minutes.

Designed Well for Students to Use

The interface is straightforward. Each question is read by a narrator. While the narrator is reading the question, the mouse pointer turns into an ear directing the student to listen. After the question is read, a “ding” tone indicates that the student may then select their response.

The student has two choices in the way that they select their response. They can use their mouse and click on the correct choice or they can you the 1, 2, or 3 keys that correlate to the correct answer. Students are locked into their answer if they use their mouse, but they are not locked into their answer if they use the 1, 2, 3 select methods until they hit enter. This can be a problem for younger students that have not been exposed to manipulating a computer mouse or using a keyboard.

In the top right-hand corner of the screen, there is a box that the student can click to have the narrator repeat the question at any time. In addition, the question is repeated every fifteen seconds of inactivity until time runs out.

Each question is given on a one and a half minute timer. When a student has fifteen seconds remaining a small clock will begin to flash at the top of the screen letting them know that time is about to expire for that question.

A Good Tool for Teachers

STAR Early Literacy assesses forty-one skill sets in ten essential literacy and numeracy domains. The ten domains include alphabetic principle, the concept of word, visual discrimination, phonemic awareness, phonics, structural analysis, vocabulary, sentence level comprehension, paragraph level comprehension, and early numeracy.

The program also allows teachers to set goals and monitor a student’s progress as they move throughout the year. It allows them to create an individualized instructional path to building on skills they are proficient in and improve upon their individual skills in which they need intervention. Teachers are also able to use STAR Early Literacy throughout the year quickly and accurately to decide whether they need to change their approach with a particular student or continue doing what they are doing.

STAR Early Literacy has an extensive assessment bank that allows students to be assessed multiple times without seeing the same question.


STAR Early Literacy is designed to provide teachers with useful information that will drive their instructional practices. STAR Early Literacy provides teachers with several useful reports designed to assist in targeting which students need intervention and what areas they need assistance in.

Here are six key reports available through STAR Early Literacy and a brief explanation of each:

  • Diagnostic - Student: The student diagnostic report provides the most information about an individual student. It offers information such as the student’s scaled score, literacy classification, sub-domain scores, and individual skill set scores on a scale of 0-100.
  • Diagnostic – Class: The class diagnostic report provides information related to the class as a whole. It shows how the class as a whole performed in each of the forty-one assessed skills. Teachers can use this report to drive whole class instruction to cover concepts in which the majority of the class shows they need intervention.
  • Growth: This report shows the growth of a group of students over a specific period of time. This period of time is customizable from a few weeks to months, to even growth over the course of several years.
  • Instructional Planning - Class: This report provides teachers with a list of recommended skills to drive the whole class or small group instruction. This report also allows you to group students into four ability groups and provides suggestions for meeting each group’s specific learning needs.
  • Instructional Planning - Student: This report provides teachers with a list of recommended skills and suggestions to drive individualized instruction.
  • Parent Report: This report provides teachers with an informational report to give to parents. This letter provides details about each student’s progress. It also provides instructional suggestions that parents can do at home with their child to improve their scores.

Relevant Terminology

  • Scaled Score (SS): The scaled score is figured based on the difficulty of the questions as well of the number of questions that were correct. STAR Early Literacy uses a scale range of 0-900. This score can be used to compare students to each other, as well as themselves, over time.
  • Early Emergent Reader: Scaled score of 300-487. Student has a beginning understanding that printed text has meaning. They have a rudimentary understanding that reading involves letters, words, and sentences. They also are beginning to identify numbers, letters, shapes, and colors.
  • Late Emergent Reader: Scaled score of 488-674. Student knows most letters and letter sounds. They are expanding their vocabulary, listening skills, and knowledge of print. They are starting to read picture books and familiar words.
  • Transitional Reader: Scaled score of 675-774. Student has mastered alphabet and letter sound skills. Can identify beginning and ending sounds as well vowel sounds. They likely have the ability to blend sounds and read basic words. They can use context clues such as pictures to figure out words.
  • Probable Reader: Scaled score of 775-900. Student is becoming skilled at recognizing words at a faster rate. They also are beginning to understand what they are reading. They blend sounds and word parts to read words and sentences.

The Bottom Line

STAR Early Literacy is a respectable early literacy and early numeracy assessment program. Its best features are that it is quick and easy to use, and reports can be generated in seconds. A key issue with this program is that for younger students who lack mouse skills or computer skills, the scores may be negatively skewed. However, this is an issue with virtually any computer-based program at this age. Overall, we give this program 4 out of 5 stars because the program provides teachers with a solid tool to identify early literacy and early numeracy skills that require intervention.

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Your Citation
Meador, Derrick. "STAR Early Literacy Review." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Meador, Derrick. (2023, April 5). STAR Early Literacy Review. Retrieved from Meador, Derrick. "STAR Early Literacy Review." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 10, 2023).