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About Estrellita

estrellita beginning spanish readingEstrellita is a supplementary, accelerated, beginning Spanish reading program for Pre-K through 1st grade students in Bilingual and Dual Language classrooms. Based on scientific learning and reading principles, Estrellita provides multisensory, in depth instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency. Because it was designed to meet the needs of children at all skill levels, layers of differentiated instruction are built into the program.

  • Estrellita maps “pictures to beginning sounds” to assist children in making the connection from the known (picture) to the unknown (grapheme).
  • Estrellita introduces vowels before consonants. The program also provides a built-in review process to ensure that students retain previously learned sounds.
  • Estrellita is based on the core structure of the Spanish language and is not a direct translation.
  • Estrellita writing component is aligned with and occurs concurrently with the reading process
  • Estrellita’s philosophy and methodology have always been to teach the letter sounds first and to prolong the teaching of letter names until children have “broken the code.”
  • Estrellita utilizes a syllabic approach to blending and segmentation which systematically builds upon itself.

For over 20 years, and in over 2500 schools nationwide, Estrellita has been utilized in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade classrooms successfully. Included in this number are over 850 school districts and 23 states (including Puerto Rico and Canada). Some of these schools have been using Estrellita since the early 90′s.

Who utilizes Estrellita?

    • Estrellita is utilized effectively in many “varied level” bilingual, Early Childhood classroom.
    • Estrellita provides the in depth structural scaffolding necessary to assist children in dual-language programs break the code.
    • Estrellita serves as an RTI program for at risk children.
    • Estrellita provides built in acceleration to reading for the gifted child.
    • Estrellita provides a jumpstart into reading for recent arrivals with little or no formal schooling.

About the Author

Karen Myer, author of Estrellita, began her teaching career as a Migrant Teacher in California. She taught for 17 years as a 1st and 2nd grade bilingual teacher during which time she developed the Estrellita Accelerated Beginning Spanish Reading Program for kindergarten and 1st grades. Karen has her M.A. in Education along with a Reading Specialist Credential.

Read the article Supporting Early Spanish Literacy in Dual Language Classroom by Karen Myer, M.A.

Estrellita Research Articles

Estrellita has been used in over 2500 schools nationwide. Included in this number are over 850 school districts and 23 states including Puerto Rico and Canada. Some of these schools have been using Estrellita since the early 90′s.

Effectiveness of Spanish Intervention for First-Grade English Language Learners at Risk for Reading Difficulties

This study, entitled “Effectiveness of Spanish Intervention for First-Grade English Language Learners at Risk for Reading Difficulties,” was published in 2006. Estrellita was one of the intervention programs used in the study which was conducted at three sites in Texas. Two of the three sites used Estrellita as a supplementary program to the core reading program.

Texas Successful Schools Study: Quality Education For Limited English Proficient Students

“The [Texas Successful Schools] study was conducted over a 24-month period beginning in March 1998 and ending in March 2000 as part of the Commissioner’s Educational Research Initiative—a statewide leadership effort. The purpose of the … Study was to profile the programs, policies, and instructional practices of the seven study sites and report on the contributions of these schools to the academic success of limited English proficient students.” (p. 3) “Spanish reading and phonics programs such as ‘Estrellita’ … are used extensively in the successful schools.” (p. 26)

“Washington Reads (Reading Excellence Act) Expert Panel” (2001) & “Reading First Review Panel” (2003)

(Estrellita approved for purchase with grant money, 2001, 2003)

In order to evaluate and select Spanish reading programs that met the research-based requirements of the “Reading Excellence Act” and later, the “Reading First Act,” the Washington Department of Education assembled a “Washington Reads Expert Panel” in 2001 for the “Reading Excellence Act” monies and a “Reading First Review Panel” in 2003 for the “Reading First” grant. Estrellita is named as a supplementary program for phonics intervention in these documents and as such, has passed the panel’s rigorous criteria.

These panels were composed of OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) program managers, ESD (Educational Service District) staff, elementary principals, district curriculum directors, elementary reading specialists from low income schools that increased dramatically in reading achievement, state reading specialists, Title I and Special Education teachers, private and public university reading or curriculum professors, and bilingual specialists.

Background
The Expert Panel used the best available information at the time to create this list of approved practices and materials. The panel applied the National Reading Panel (3/21/00) findings that effective phonemic awareness strategies applied to “other alphabetic languages.” In other areas of Spanish reading, a relatively limited quantity of research on reading program and strategy effectiveness was available at the time of the review. Therefore, the panel considered available research and applied the National Reading panel findings for the teaching of English decoding, fluency/passage reading, vocabulary and comprehension to the teaching of Spanish reading as well.” Approved Practices, p. 1.

Process Used by the Expert Panel:
1. Many excellent programs were reviewed. To be reviewed, materials appeared on a national recommended list or were personally recommended by members of the Expert Panel.
2. All of the materials applied research findings to some extent. Only those which most consistently met the criteria from the Consumer’s Guide to Evaluating a Core Reading Program, the National Reading Panel findings and the needs of the special population, were placed on the Washington Reads Menu.
3. The materials appearing on Washington Reads Menu evidenced a clear difference in the degree and consistency with which they met the panel’s unique criteria when compared to the materials not placed on the menu.” Appendix E, p. 169
Estrellita was selected in 2001 by the “Washington Reads (Reading Excellence Act) Expert Panel” for “students who might need more explicit instruction in phonics than is provided in [the programs selected by the Expert Panel]. If so, they should be placed in intensive phonics intervention, using the supplemental program Estrellita.”

Approved Practices
Estrellita was again selected in 2003 by the “Reading First Expert Panel” and was approved for purchase with Reading First money for the identified use in teaching students to read in Spanish. The targeted area was phonics.
The attached documents entitled “Appendix E” and “Approved Practices” contain background information on the techniques used by the “Washington Reads Expert Review Panel” (Reading Excellence Act) and list the programs selected by the panel. The “Menu Of Spanish Supplemental (Reading Programs)” contain the results from the “Reading First Review Panel.” Estrellita is named as a supplementary program for phonics intervention in these documents and as such, has passed the panel’s rigorous criteria.

Comparing Estrellita-trained Students with Non-Estrellita-trained Students

Aldine Independent School District in Houston is one of the 12 largest school districts in Texas. Aldine first purchased the Estrellita K-1 program in 1996 and it continues to be an integral part of their language arts instruction. They also piloted the PreK program during the 2000-2001 school year. Aldine ISD ranks among the state’s high performing school districts according to data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The district has earned seven “Recognized”* ratings since 1996.

(* For a Texas district to receive a “Recognized” rating, at least 80.0% of all students, and students within each student group, must pass each subject area. (“Each student group” refers to African American, Hispanic, White, and Economically Disadvantaged.)

Results show test data for a third grade bilingual class in Aldine ISD for the 2003-2004 school year. The study compared the results for students who had been through the Estrellita program in PreK and Kindergarten to students who had not been through the program.

The students who had learned to read with Estrellita scored significantly higher than those who had not. The first slide shows the data for the Spanish TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) for 22 students. The second and third slides compare 19 students using the data from ITBS (Slide 2) and Logramos (Slide 3). (The 19 students in slides 2 and 3 are students were present for the entire year. The additional three in Slide 1 were students who moved.) The ITBS is a norm-referenced test in English. Logramos is a Spanish Language Arts assessment Aldine ISD uses the ITBS to ensure that their students are competing on a national level, not just on the Texas level with the TAKS tests. The Estrellita-trained students scored higher on all three assessments. It is significant to note that they scored higher on the English assessment (ITBS), thus supporting Estrellita’s claim that it provides a jumpstart into reading and that these skills in the first language transfer to the second language. Because of the accelerated nature of the Estrellita program and the solid foundation it provides in the primary language, transitioned students achieve higher gains in English than those who have not been through the Estrellita program.

Aldine ISD’s curriculum is derived from the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) which are developed and mandated by the state. Staff members from every level participate in developing these TEKS into grade level benchmarks that specifically describe what each child needs to know at any particular grade level. These district-wide benchmark targets form the foundation upon which all teaching and learning is constructed. Estrellita is the only program mentioned in Aldine’s Kindergarten Spanish Language Arts Benchmarks.

Texas A&M Early Childhood Development Center

Estrellita is part of the curriculum that is implemented at the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The ECDC is a collaborative effort of the Corpus Christi Independent School District and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Estrellita has a home-school connection to elicit parent involvement, an important component of this university/school collaboration. TAAS results have earned the school a “Recognized” rating in 1999 and an “Exemplary” rating in 2000 and 2001. In 2004, the school again received an “Exemplary” rating and a “Recognized” rating in 2005. They earned an exemplary rating from the Texas Education Agency for 2008–2009.

The Promise Initiative (California)

The PROMISE Initiative is a six-county collaboration for English Learner Success. Partners include the county offices of education of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura County in partnership with California Tomorrow. Six school districts (Baldwin Park USD, Moreno Valley USD, Saddleback Valley USD, San Bernardino City USD, Escondidio Union HS District, and Oceanview Elementary SD) have joined PROMISE in a three year pilot study to bring about transformational systemic reform to meet the needs of their English Learner students. After looking at many programs, San Bernardino City Unified School District chose Estrellita as the intervention program to be used at their Promise Initiative school site, Lytle Creek Elementary. Moreno Valley Unified School District’s Sunnymead Elementary is another Promise Initiative site. They are already using Estrellita and, therefore, it will be included in their Promise Initiative project as well.

The Promise Initiative website can be found at: http://www.promise-initiative.org/.

Nestor Elementary, South Bay USD, CA

Nestor Elementary in South Bay Unified School District in San Diego, CA, has been using Estrellita since 1999. Nestor implements a 90/10 two-way immersion model. In 2002, Nestor Elementary received the Seal of Excellence from CABE (California Association of Bilingual Education). The Seal of Excellence Award was inaugurated in 1996 to honor exemplary bilingual education programs throughout the State. This prestigious award honors schools that have established effective programs for their English Learners.

Additionally, Dr. Kathryn Lindholm Leary, professor of Child and Adolescent Development at San Jose State University, serves as Nestor’s external evaluator and compiles the school’s test scores. The 2007-2008 test results outlined in the PowerPoint file presentation were very positive and showed that:

• Spanish reading & math achievement are above grade level to very high.
• EL students make excellent growth in English language proficiency: 2/3 of 6th graders Early/Early Advanced on CELDT.

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