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Why use CARS® Plus?

The research-based Comprehensive Assessment of Reading Strategies (CARS Plus) Series helps you quickly identify which of the 12 standards-based reading comprehension strategies your students might be struggling to understand. Informed by this data, you can then provide students with targeted instruction depending on each student's individual needs by using STARS Plus.

Benefits of the new, revised CARS Plus include:

  • Pretests, Benchmarks and Post Tests all in the same book to easily and conveniently monitor students' progress.
  • Tracking forms/charts for teachers and self-assessment forms for students.
  • Assessments covering a diverse range of genres and cross-curricular content.
  • Responses to strategy-specific questions to help you tailor instruction.
  • Self-assessments to encourage goal setting and reflection.

CARS Plus includes the following:

  • PRETESTS

    To be done at the beginning of the year. Give students one test per day for five consecutive days.

  • BENCHMARKS

    To be done throughout the year. There are two benchmarking tests to be administered in 75-minute periods.

  • POST TESTS

    To be completed at the end of the year. Give students one test per day for five consecutive days.

Core Reading Strategies

CARS & STARS Plus assessments test student comprehension of the following reading strategies.

The strategies are based on comprehension ability and so levels P and AA focus on only six of the twelve main reading strategies (including pre-reading and listening skills, these are visual and teacher-guided), level A focuses on eight, and levels B-H focus on all twelve strategies. The names of the strategies change slightly in pre-reading levels to compensate for comprehension abilities.

Book
P

Pre-reading

  • Finding the Big Idea
  • Finding Details
  • Putting Things in Order
  • Making a Guess
  • Figuring Things Out
  • Understanding What Happens and Why
Book
AA

Pre-reading

  • Finding the Main Idea
  • Finding Details
  • Putting Ideas in Order
  • Making a Guess
  • Figuring Things Out
  • Understanding What Happens and Why
Book
A

Beginning Reading

  • Finding the Main Idea
  • Recalling Facts and Details
  • Understanding Sequence
  • Recognising Cause and Effect
  • Making Predictions
  • Finding Word Meaning in Context
  • Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
  • Reading Pictures
Book
B-C

Early Reading

  • Finding Main Idea
  • Recalling Facts and Details
  • Understanding Sequence
  • Recognising Cause and Effect
  • Comparing and Contrasting
  • Making Predictions
  • Finding Word Meaning in Context
  • Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
  • Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion
  • Identifying Author’s Purpose
  • Interpreting Figurative Language
  • Distinguishing Between Real and Make-believe
Book
D-H

Main Strategies

  • Finding Main Idea
  • Recalling Facts and Details
  • Understanding Sequence
  • Recognising Cause and Effect
  • Comparing and Contrasting
  • Making Predictions
  • Finding Word Meaning in Context
  • Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences
  • Distinguishing Between Fact and Opinion
  • Identifying Author’s Purpose
  • Interpreting Figurative Language
  • Summarising

CARS Plus Student Books & Teacher Guides

CARS Plus Student Book

The CARS Plus Student Books contain

  • Student Progress Chart to measure strengths and weaknesses by strategy across Pretests, Benchmarks and Post Tests
  • 5 Pretests, 5 Benchmarks & 5 Post Tests
  • 2 Self-assessments
  • Blank bubble sheets for all assessments

CARS Plus Teacher Guide

The CARS Plus Teacher Guides contain

  • Overview of the program
  • Suggestions for effective use
  • Research summary
  • “Understanding the Strategies” Reproducible
  • Teacher Assessments
  • Answer Keys

Research-Based Best Practices

CARS Plus Research

The CARS Plus Series is a diagnostic, progress monitoring and assessment tool that helps teachers focus their reading instruction to meet each student's needs. These classroom-based assessments meet the recommendations of several reading organisations and educational experts.

Data-driven Instruction

Data-driven instruction is an approach that benefits every student. Instructional decisions are based on the systematic collection of data that reflects students' understanding. Researchers recommend that data that drives instruction should come from multiple sources. The CARS Plus Series provides multiple sources of data to guide instruction through a Pretest, Benchmark, a Post Test and Teacher Assessments.

Pretests, Benchmarks and Post Tests

Data-driven instruction is based on the data resulting from diagnosing, benchmarking and assessing students' performance on a learning task (Education Commission of the States, 1992; IRA, 2010; Trimble, Gay & Matthews, 2005). From these results, teachers may tailor their instruction to meet each student's needs. The CARS Plus Series is specifically constructed to provide teachers with the data they need to create effective and customised lesson plans using the STARS Plus Series.

Quick-Reference Chart of Best Practices

This series utilises ... Example Research Says ...

Core Reading Strategies

These are the fundamental reading strategies that bring thinking skills and reading together, allowing students to understand what they are reading.

Throughout the series

“Great readers make sense of text … Readers need to make sense of what they read and they do so by mobilising literacy processes simultaneously.”

(Frey, Fisher & Berkin, 2009)

Best Practices: Strategies & Features

These are teaching strategies and instructional features that guarantee effective research-based instruction.

Throughout the series

Parris and Block (2007) state that effective teachers address diverse needs of students through: individualised instruction and flexible grouping strategies that attend to individual needs within the context of groups.

Metacognition

Students set learning goals and then self-evaluate for clarity and accuracy of their performance. They think about what strategies or skills need to be activated or improved to achieve their next milestone or final goal.

Student Book:

Student Self-assessments

“Strategic reading reflects metacognition and motivation because readers need to know the strategies and to be willing to use them.”

(Kolic-Vehovec & Bajsaski, 2006)

Progress-Monitoring

These are the fundamental reading strategies that bring thinking skills and reading together, allowing students to understand what they are reading.

Student Book:

Pretests, Parts 1–5
Benchmarks, 1–5
Post Tests, Parts 1–5

“Research has demonstrated that when teachers use students’ progress monitoring, students learn more, teacher decision-making improves, and students become more aware of their own performance.”

(Safer & Fleischman, 2005)

Assessments

This feature is closely tied to common learning goals and provides decision-making guidance for each student.

Student Book:

Pretests, Parts 1–5
Benchmarks, 1–5
Post Tests, Parts 1–5

 

The following documents include information on the extensive research base underpinning the CARS & STARS Plus Series and the methodology behind its implementation.

Read the full CARS Plus Supporting Research

Learn more about CARS & STARS Plus Research