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What is START-IN®?   START-IN® is a research-based RtI program for reading developed by Drs. Judy Montgomery and Barbara Moore-Brown. This nine-week, 45-hour, program is for struggling readers in elementary grades.

START-IN® consists of 16 tasks that address the National Reading Panel's (NRP) five building blocks of reading - Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Text Comprehension. Students with reading difficulties complete the 16 tasks in one hour sessions, five days a week, using reading materials from their classroom or library. Field tested for three years in urban schools, START-IN® reduces unnecessary or inappropriate referrals to special education. Click here for a handout explaining the START-IN® program.
Who are the START-IN® authors?  Dr. Judy Montgomery is the Professor of Special Education and Literacy at Chapman University; in Orange, California. She has 24 years experience in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist, general education principal, and director of special education.

Dr. Barbara Moore-Brown is the Director of Special Youth Services for Anaheim Union High School District, in Anaheim, California where she directs special education and support services. She has directed a highly successful district-wide RtI program for several years.
What research supports the START-IN® Response to Intervention program for reading?  Drs. Montgomery and Moore-Brown conducted the START-IN® program research over a two-year period in a culturally diverse, urban school district. Participants included 123 fourth and fifth grade students who were struggling in reading and who were not successful with other general education interventions. Of the 123 students who participated in START-IN®, 85% demonstrated one year's growth in their reading skills after 45 hours of intense instruction. Evidence of the effectiveness of the START-IN® program is in the journal articles, Last Chance to be a Reader (Montgomery & Moore-Brown, 2003) and Responsiveness to Intervention: Teaching Rather than Testing Helps Avoid Labeling (Moore-Brown, et al., 2005).
Does START-IN® meet Reading First guidelines?  Yes. Each of the 16 START-IN® tasks focus on at least one of the five building blocks of reading (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics Instruction, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Text Comprehension) as outlined by the National Reading Panel in Put Reading First (2001)
Who may implement the START-IN® program?  Special educators, speech-language pathologists, and reading specialists are the individuals who would normally be in charge of implementing the START-IN® program. Since the program has a structured format, individuals may alternate days of instruction to help spread out the teaching responsibilities. The authors do not recommend that instructional assistants deliver the program.
Which students are most likely to benefit from START-IN®?
Students who meet the following criteria are most likely to benefit from START-IN®:
  1. The students should be in the elementary grades (preferably 3rd-8th grades).
  2. The students' cases have been discussed in the school's Student Study Team/ Pre-Referral Process, at least twice and modifications and accommodations to the general education program have taken place in Tier II.
  3. The students have participated in all other available reading intervention programs at the school site.
  4. The students have being considered for referrals for assessment to determine special education eligibility as learning disabled and/or speech-language impaired.
  5. The students are struggling in reading and are at least two grade levels below peers.
Do you need permission for a student to participate in START-IN®?  Yes, a parent permission slip along with all the other forms you need for the program are in the appendices of the START-IN® book.
What happens after the 45 hours of START-IN® instruction?  After 45-hours of START-IN® instruction, the referral team has several options. If a student responds to the intervention, then he/she should go back to the general education classroom with support (Tier II). At this point, teachers will know more about the student's reading habits and can use this information to help the student. If a student does not respond to instruction after 45 hours, an IEP team should convene to determine placement in special education. Testing is NOT necessary at this point. You will use the information that you collected over nine weeks of START-IN® to help develop an appropriate IEP for the student.
How do we determine which students respond to intervention and which students do not?  In order to determine if the students responded to the intervention, it is necessary to have a pre- and post- testing procedure. The authors recommend using standardized norm-referenced tests for this purpose. They used the Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (AGS, 2002) to monitor progress, but there are several other assessment measures recommended in the START-IN® book.
Upon completion of START-IN®, are the students reading at grade level?  Do not expect that students will be at grade level once they complete the RtI program. Most students will continue to need intervention and/or assistance after the START-IN® program. These interventions, however, are provided within the general education curriculum.
Can a student go through START-IN® a second time?  It is not recommend that a student go through START-IN® a second time. If the student continues to struggle and shows no growth in his/her reading ability, it may be time to determine if another Tier III intervention would help or if special education placement is necessary.
What types of administrative supports are necessary to get START-IN® going at my school?  The involvement of your school and district is important to the overall success of START-IN® at your school and absolutely necessary for implementation. Any specialist or teacher who wishes to begin a program should involve the principal, district level special education director, and other necessary persons.
After I've purchased the START-IN® book and materials kit, how do I get started?  The important components of an RtI action plan are:
  1. Identify the key people in your school that will be involved (special educator, principal, speech-language pathologist, special education coordinator, etc.).
  2. Determine your goals/outcomes (e.g., providing education for the key people, scheduling the program, determining eligibility for the program).
  3. Develop a timeline for the implementation of all goals.
  4. Make sure all participants have a copy of the action plan and that everyone agrees with the goals/outcomes and the timeline.
Use this as a way to determine what steps you need to take to make START-IN® in your school/district a reality.
If you have more questions about the START-IN® program please email
SLPhelp@superduperinc.com or call 1-800-277-8737.