Team Members: Lauren Barry, Amy Gorzkowski, Sarah Paciorkowski

Manufacturer: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt School Publishers
Website: Click Here to See Complete Kit
Copyright: 2008
Cost: Complete Kit* $1,194.50 per grade leveI
(Includes 7 copies each of 18 titles, 7 copies of consumable Student Guide, a teacher's manual, staff development video, and posters.)

Description of Program:

This program is designed to be a reading intervention program for students who are below grade level in grades three through eight. Soar to Success will supplement classroom instruction, it is not a primary way of teaching literacy. The program was designed by Dr. J. David Cooper and Dr. David Chard after conducting 10 years of research i n the five critical areas of reading. In addition, Soar to Success was derived from "Project Success". A great deal of the research was based off of Annemarie Palincsar's idea of reciprocal teaching. Reciprocal teaching is basically a lively dialogue between the teacher and students where the students are taught four skills: clarifying, predicting, summarizing, and questioning. Cooper and Chard used this information to create Soar to Success which focuses on five components in literacy: (a) revisiting (b) reviewing (c) rehearsing (d) reading (e) responding/reflecting. Through these five components Soar to Success focuses on phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Although Soar to Success focuses on these five components it mainly focuses on comprehension skills. The authors of the program designed a series of 40 minute lessons over a period of 18 weeks.


Fundamental Components of Soar to Success:

  • Soar to Success includes 7 copies of 18 age appropriate texts as well as 7 copies of a consumable Student Guide, a teacher's manual, staff development video, and posters. The texts and teacher materials are color coded in order to prevent confusion.
  • The use of graphic organizers and KWL charts are used by the students in order to promote comprehension. This helps students vis ually see the material in addition to the auditory support which will help comprehension
  • The lessons that are provided by the publisher focus on the teacher modeling skills as well as scaffolding. The instruction begins with mostly the teacher providing direct instruction and gradually develops student independence.
  • The program begins with lessons focusing on the revisiting component and works through all the subsequent components until the student has reached mastery levels in responding/reflecting.

Additional Information:

Best Group Size for the Program:

  • 5-7 students at the same level for reading
  • Instruction can be achieved either in a resource room setting or in an inclusive classroom when the general education or special education teachers are able to take a small number of students regularly to work on the skills in this program.

Required Teacher Training for Soar to Success:
  • In the Complete Kit there is a teacher's manual with an instructional video.
  • There are 2-3 hours of in-service training provided for each kit purchased.
  • There are manuals that also suggest creating a coaching plan to help offer more training and development in the school.

Analysis of Soar to Success Program:

  • The Soar to Success program is developed around an 18 week schedule of lessons which provide multiple opportunities for skill practice and development. Each of the lessons in the program is designed for a small group of students, and generally lasts 30 to 40 minutes. These brief mini-lessons allow for skills to be introduced and immediately practiced until a level of mastery is reached.
  • Soar to Success focuses on the following instructional strategies to improve student learning levels: phonics & decoding, summarizing, clarifying, questioning, predicting, fluency, text structure, and comprehension. In teaching these various literacy skills, students are able to apply learned skills quickly, and through proper practice, reach a level of mastery in utilizing each skill.
  • This program supplements the classroom literacy curriculum through mini-lessons ranging from basic literacy components such as phonics and decoding, to highly complex literacy skills such as reading comprehension. These more complex skills in particular require students to exercise and apply metacognitive skills. This higher level thinking is evidence of program quality in content and instructional approach. Students can take these skills and apply them in their regular classroom.
  • Form 2 of the Soar to Success program, which was released in 2008, includes various informal and formative assessment measures. These integrated assessments detect progress in the program, as well as areas of strength and weakness in regards to the literacy skills it teaches. Also included in the program are screenings for phonics and decoding skills. These screenings often aid in determining whether additional supporting materials are required when instructing a particular student. Students who have fallen considerably behind grade level expectations may need intensive intervention support. Soar to Success provides comprehensive phonics instruction and work support to accelerate skill building with the goal of inc reasing students grade level performance to then begin improve overall comprehension.


Strengths and Weaknesses of Soar to Success:


  • The program is evidence and research based focusing on reciprocal teaching.
  • Soar to Success can be used by classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special educators after going through the brief training process.
  • Provides the late elementary/middle school age students with a good reading comprehension strategy that uses student interest based texts and a variety of text structures and genres.
  • Soar to Success includes graphic organizers that complement the designed lessons.
  • Uses ongoing assessment methods to facilitate student’s learning and understanding to reach a mastery level in literacy strategies.

  • Soar to Success isolates the skill of comprehension since that is the main focus. Therefore this may cause the struggling readers to have a hard time to connect this skill to the other areas of reading such as reading fluency.
  • It is not as long term as it could be to make this a skill that continues through high school.

Final Reflection:

  • This program is manageable as a first year teacher because it provides you with the appropriate training and materials to implement the program.
  • Soar to Success is effective in improving students' comprehension skills.
  • It provides a variety of text options which allows for all students to find materials that will interest and benefit them.
  • The program is used for a range of grade levels which can help a first year teacher to focus on learning one basic program while addressing students' specific learning needs.

Boynton Hauerwas, L PhD. Interview. 9 November 2009.
Florida Center for Reading Research (2004 June) . Soar to Success.
Houghton Mifflin School Publishers (2008). Soar to Success.
Nevada Department of Education (2001). Supplemental Intervention Program Usage Guidelines.