Accelerated Reader ($7,000)

As mentioned on a previous post, most people are in favor of keeping AR, therefore so am I.  However, we need to have some discussion in July as to Best Practices for AR. Here’s a sincere parent concern to get that conversation started:

I am so frustrated with this program. Student read the Book that Will Not Be named, a book at student’s reading level, and took the test this morning. Student received a score of 50% and 0 points. I know it has taken several weeks to read the book, and it is quite long, but I don’t understand why student continues to get such bad scores on these AR tests????


how can I help student do better with AR next year. Student is frustrated as well, and I fear he will end up hating reading b/c of this…

How do we address this student, a struggling reader, who appears to have read the book, yet scored poorly on this assessment?


6 thoughts on “Accelerated Reader ($7,000)

  1. AR should not be the only means to measure reading comprehension. I am especially concerned with the way students in the upper grades learn to cheat. I’ve seen kids type in the title of a non- fiction topic, for example, dogs, then take an AR test and pass it using their previous knowledge without even reading the book. In first grade I see more of a benefit, but as kids get older, I think there are more authentic ways ( and fun ways) for showing deep understanding and making meaning from a book than taking an AR Quiz.

  2. Maybe for that particular student the he/she was not ready for a longer book at their “level.” Just because the book is at their level does not mean they will always understand the material. The parent could have tried breaking the book up into smaller sections, (i.e., one chapter a night then the student and parent talk about the chapter and continue this process all the while doing a quick recap or spiraling the previous chapters) to help the student retain the information. Sometimes it is best to try out a chapter book every now and then and if they seem to struggle with them then the student can return to picture books for a while to regain their confidence and comfort in reading. A student continually failing tests on books at a certain level tells me that the student might not be ready for the genre or length of book and needs to be reevaluated by the teacher and parent. AR is a as much a monitoring system as it is an accountablility and motivation system.

  3. My suggestion is to create some AR guidelines/helpful tips for parents, so that they know how to best support their children with the program – ensuring greater success for each student. For example this document may include many/all of the strategies that Jason mentioned, as well as other suggestions from teachers. It can then be sent out at the beginning of the year and/or placed on the blog. Also, my hope is that all parents become aware that AR is an independent reading program, and is supplemental to the curriculum. I have seen many students become motivated as a result of earning award certs., which is why is why I want it to funded again. However, so much emphasis has been placed on AR and earning awards that it often takes away from instructional time – time that could be spent on actually teaching reading strategies and promoting a genuine love for reading. A general understanding amogst parents of how to support with AR, and that it is an independent program, should allow for more of a balance to be struct with this program.

  4. I agree that AR is useful in terms of accountability for our students. However, it should not be used in isolation. I piloted a great resource for teachers to use in the upper grades, 3rd and up. It was useful in pinpointing what in the text was difficult. The leveling of the books is not aligned with AR, but is aligned to common core. I found it very helpful and I feel it would be a great resource to add to our tool bag as we help students get better at comprehending chapter books.

  5. I agree that AR is a motivational and accountability tool, but other than that, it is not indicative of true comprehension nor is it a genuine assessment for comprehension. Furthermore, I feel that the competition it fosters does not create a learning community that creates a love of reading. My own children will avoid books because they are not AR leveled and I have to convince them that the book is of value. If a child has a sincere interest and it is not AR, why shouldn’t that child be able to read it? The Reading Challenge’s ambiguity in its rules does not create an environment for which children can enjoy reading, it creates competition for competition’s sake. I feel that students should reach their individual goals and minutes read should be the highlight of the challenge. Quizzes passed, like Heather mentioned, could be fabricated. Let’s highlight the individual’s progress and the classroom’s goal. For every classroom that sets a realistic goal and reaches it, they get extra recess. No cost, no harm, no competition. And kids can play…what else do they want?

  6. Maybe we should consider giving out reading certificates in our own classrooms so as to minimize the competiton aspect. I think students should have 5 books per week tha they have chosen to read. 2-3 of them could be AR and the rest can be fun, high interest books. If we only require them take two AR tests a week that will allow for reading for fun as the emphasis isn’t being placed on testing. To foster the love of reading, on a chosen day they teacher could allow students to share and talk (do a short presentation for upper grades) about a book they read and recommend. We can also encourage students to read more by giving personalized bookmarks, especially when they get into chapter books.

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