Why are we requiring Accelerated Reading?
Reading is important. Reading is used across all curriculums: math, sciences, social studies, etc and is an important component of the WASL test. We at AHS are using the AR program to supplement our regular reading program, NOT replace it. We are seeking a way for students to improve their reading skills through daily practice. The program was initially added in 1999 in only a few classes, and with its success, has now grown to be part of the English department classes.
AR is used to increase a student’s comprehension only, and the higher level analysis/synthesis discussions take place in the classroom with the novel sets we teach there.
Why the AR program?
AR is currently used in 60,000 schools nationwide. It has been studied extensively, and has proven successful in increasing students reading levels. A study of AR conducted with over 50,000 students in grades 1-12, showed that the increased time spent in reading lead to gains in reading achievement for all students regardless of prior ability.
Because of the number of schools using this program, most publishers of children’s and teen books have submitted their books for the AR reading quizzes, and even carry the AR information on their book covers.
The tests, 5, 10 or 20 questions, depending on the length and level of the book, are a way for us to test the student’s comprehension of the book. The questions are detailed enough that a student can not pass by seeing the movie, reading the book jacket, or looking the story up on the WEB.
What are the requirements of the program?
With collaboration, the English Department had determined that AR will be 10% of the student’s English grade. They have also set a standard for all the students, which allows for some individuality among the teachers.
A minimum of 3 books per semester (1 book read for each 6-week period) and a passing grade of 70%. Number of points to be accumulated varies with the Grade Equivalent that a student has achieved on the initial placement test – STAR reading. For a complete list of the point schedule, please click here.
In addition, a teacher may require a student to read a non-fiction book, a classic or something special.
How do you determine the reading level?
Each student takes a computerized test from the Renaissance Learning Company, the company that produces the AR tests. This test, STAR, is an adaptive assessment – it responds to the student’s answers, and asks questions based on the response from the student. From these questions, a student is given a reading range, called ZPD, which will best help them develop their reading skills.
The ZPD reading range is NOT a grade level – a student reading a book that is 5.1, is not reading a 5th grade book. He/she is reading a book that requires the skills that a 5th grader would have, to read the words and understand their individual meaning, but does not mean that the story is appropriate for a 5th grade student. For example, Catcher in the Rye is set at a 4.7 level – certainly not a story that we would expect most 4th graders read and understand. On the other hand, Alice in Wonderland, a book we all associate with children, is really a 7.8 level – both the words and meaning of the book are a lot more sophisticated than the Disney movie!
The important thing to remember – don’t think of the ZPD as a grade level – think of it as a reading level.
How are the required points determined?
Renaissance Learning has used a combination of the amount of daily reading time done by the student, plus the Grade-equivalent score from the STAR test, to set a chart of the number of points that each student should be able to achieve at 9-week intervals. We have adapted that to fit our 6-week grading periods, and have based it on a student reading at least 30 minutes a day.
A higher level student will be required to read more points in order to keep them challenged – generally, the higher level books are worth more points because of the difficulty in the language and because they are longer books. Yes, there are a few books that are worth less than 5 points at a high level, but they are very short and can be read in one reading period. This would not give that student enough practice in the skill of reading.