Food for Thought on Accelerated Reader type programs

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by hojalata, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    I know I should probably just keep my mouth shut, but I feel so strongly about this. I've seen a few posts here about AR or Scholastic's read-for-points type program. I wanted to share this excerpt from the book Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. I think it is so spot on. Here is the (long) excerpt: (p.74-75)

    ...On the contrary, it has become increasingly popular in school districts across the country to stick struggling or reluctant readers into packaged programs that reward students with points for reading books. Accelerated Reader (AR) is one such program. In AR, students are given mindless multiple-choice quizzes after they finish each book, and if they pass these quizzes, they are awarded points. Earn enough points and they progress to higher-level books in the program. In AR, the good news is that students read a lot of books. The bad news?

    -Students can only read books found on the AR list. If a good book is not on the list, students are not allowed to read it.

    -Students choose books for high point value, rather than for their level of interest.

    -The reward system sends the message that the reason students should read is not to enjoy reading but to earn points. Students are taught to read for the wrong reasons.

    -Chenowith (2001) found that although students did a significant amount of reading in the program, their reading dropped lower than nonparticipants within one month of exiting AR. Without the points, their motivation significantly decreased.

    -Pavonetti, Brimmer, and Cipielewski (2002/2003) found that once students left AR they read on average ten hours a week less than nonparticipants. The program had short-term success but actually set young readers back in the long run.

    Many teachers like Accelerated Reader and similar incentive-laden programs because they see students do a significant amount of reading. What they don't see is that programs such as AR and others that offer extrinsic rewards often lead to demotivating students after they have left the classroom.

    Setting test scores aside for a moment, isn't it our overall, long-term goal to produce graduates who become lifelong readers? Isn't it paramount that students leave our school seeing themselves as readers? What will be more important twenty years from now, that we have produced adults who remain avid readers? Or that we have produced adults who were once able to climb from level 3 to level 4 in a junior high school reading program?

    With that in mind, let's return to McQuillan's (2001) study of reluctant readers at Anaheim High School. Recall that these students were immersed in a book flood and were simply given time to read. No tests. No worksheets. No points to earn. And while it is important to remember that these students showed significant gains in reading and writing, what is often overlooked is that this group exited the study liking reading.. These students, most of whom expressed disdain for reading upon entering the study, discovered reading to be a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit. Sure, they made academic gains, but much more importantly, they began to see themselves as readers. They made this discovery without points being dangled in front of them. In fact, just the opposite seems to have occurred: it appears they came to this discovery because points were not dangled in front of them.

    This is not a surprise. Numerous studies have found the most powerful motivator that schools can offer to build lifelong readers is to provide students with time in the school day for free and voluntary reading (FVR). Pilgreen and Krashen (1993) found that FVR is a strong indicator for the amount of reading students will do outside of school, and Greaney and Clarke (1975) found the effect appears to last years after the SSR program ends. [empahsis in book]


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  3. Daisha

    Daisha Companion

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    I like that passage, sad thing in my district, is that we do use AR. I have to use it, reports and progress are required turn in items every week to my principal as well as district office.
     
  4. tb71

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    My daughter's school does AR and although she likes to read she was rushing through the books to get finished to earn points. In addition, I found out that the students didn't have to do all the reading themselves and that parents can read to the student and that is acceptable--kinda defeats the purpose. And it's right on about reading only AR books--she was "allowed" to read non-AR books but wouldn't get any points, so I would have the check b/f we got anything from the library to make sure it was AR. I would welcome the free reading time over the AR.
     
  5. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    One of the students I tutor has AR at her school. They also had quotas of points that they had to achieve. She was severely dyslexic and had a really hard time. At the end of the year she was bringing her book in to read with me during our lessons so she could reach her quota for the year and she hated it. She liked the books we were reading so much better. Very sad. :(
     
  6. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    It's optional at my school, and I don't use it that much. Too many good books not on the list.
     
  7. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    We have AR in my school. About 6 years ago they really pushed it. I was doing my masters in reading and heard the same research. In fact at that time the only research for AR was their own. So I didn't push it, if they wanted to take a test okay if not okay too. It kinda died out at my school. Then last year a teacher came from another school and really pushed it with store and all that. I still didn't do it. Used the excuse of new grade level not enough time.
    Students need to read for the enjoyment of reading not some external reward.
     
  8. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Why do you feel the need to make an excuse? Why can't you say you don't do it because you feel it doesn't promote a lifelong love of reading? Maybe others would be intrigued and ask what you mean.

     
  9. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    I have been anti AR for years but everyone just thinks it's the best. They don't want to listen to research.
     
  10. melissa803

    melissa803 Comrade

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    I hate AR. There. I've said it. I agree with everything the op quoted. There are teachers at my son's school who base a reading grade on the report card solely based on AR. He just finished kindergarten. I'm going to be trying to figure out how to protest this (anonymous distribution of journal articles?) without becoming one of THOSE moms. I can't figure out why the reading coach at this school doesn't do anything about this.
     
  11. sundrop

    sundrop Cohort

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    In my opinion, AR can be a good tool if used appropriately. Students should not be told they can't read a book if it doesn't have an AR test. In fact, they should be strongly encouraged to read good books and books that they like regardless of whether they have tests. AR tests themselves can be very helpful. I personally couldn't possibly read all of the books that students read. So, if students did book reports as an alternative to AR, I wouldn't really know if they really read the book or if they copied info from somewhere else. Reading grades certainly shouldn't solely be based on the number of AR points earned.

    In the end, everyone has the right to their opinion of AR.
     
  12. MissAmy

    MissAmy Companion

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    I agree with you sundrop. I find the program very successful to keep track of where my students are reading. I never discourage students from reading any book... AR or otherwise. We read books together as a class every day from various genres. Those books are always A.R. and I never have the problem of students not having enough "points". The books they choose to read on their own is thier own choice. I never see students choosing books just for the point value. I think the program does not make the teacher a better teacher. I use tons of other strategies in my classroom for reading and see successful results every year. I don't think I would be as successful at getting my students on the reading level they need to be without the help of A.R. I think A.R. is a great program to help the teacher in constant evaluation, but like every other program, it cannot be the total and only solution to all reading needs.
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I haven't been involved in AR--not a big thing in schools here--but have a couple of questions about the program. What are the quizzes like? Are they multiple choice, short answer? Do they test basic comprehension or are higher level thinking skills addressed as well? What is the purpose of "points"? For schools that are involved in the program, do teachers and librarians need to ensure that they have a certain number of AR books available for the students to choose from?
     
  14. luv2teach1st

    luv2teach1st Rookie

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    Miss Amy, I agree with you. It cannot be the only solution. In my school, we use scholastic reading counts (basically the same as A.R.). It is a great motivator for the students to want to read more, especially my low students. I also use several strategies to help with student achievement.
     
  15. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Shouldn't you know where your students are reading,regardless of AR tests? I could be totally wrong because of my skewed view of being a first grade teacher, but I know exactly what level each of my students is reading at all the time. Maybe it's completely different at 5th? But, if you're listening in on them while they do their silent reading, would you know what/where they're reading?


     
  16. RainStorm

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    Our school requires AR. If our students don't meet their quotas, we get in trouble.

    I use it a lot, and like it for many reasons. Hola, I totally agree with what you are saying. I think AR can be a good thing -- but it is not the "be all, end all" that so many school districts seem to think it is.

    I do insist my kids meet their quotas -- but I fought hard to get reasonable quotas set. At one point, they were ridiculously high. I was very vocal that this was making reading "a chore" instead of something fun. Now, after much teacher input, the goals are very reasonable. I make a big deal out if it, and have mini-contests throughout the year. I set those up in groups sometimes, so that my lower readers have a chance to win things too.

    However, we never skip a good book because it isn't AR. First of all, one of the features of AR is that you can make your own tests and add them. I do that all the time. It isn't hard or terribly time consuming. If a student wants to read a book and our school doesn't have an AR test for it, I just make one! If they have already made their AR goal that week, we don't worry about it -- every book doesn't have to be AR.

    I also give my students time during class or as part of their mandatory homework to read these AR books. I also give time for reading of any type. I let students bring in approprate magazines and graphic novels (comic book type) things -- by appropriate I mean no adult ads that are too much -- American Girl is fine, Cosmo is not. (I teach 2nd grade.) We read labels, cereal boxes, magazines, all types of things.

    AR can be a wonderful thing when it is used appropriately. It works best for students who can read independently and who need a goal to encourage them. Using AR for kindergarten (unless it is a truly gifted student) is inappropriate, since the tests themselves are all written on at least a 2.5-3.0 level. Unless you have someone who can sit there are read the test and all of the answer choices to a student who reads below that level, its use is not appropriate.

    For my students who are already excellent readers, who want to read longer chapter books (like Harry Potter) without worrying about AR, I have a reading club during lunch one day per week, where we discuss what we are reading.

    AR is only as good as the district or teacher using it. I shudder to think that at one time in our history, our district actually used AR to determine student's reading grades!! It was mandatory. Now, we are expressly prohibited from using AR scores in any way, shape or form for grades.

    However, I still make sure all of my students meet their quotas. I don't want to get written-up for not using AR (as it is mandatory at my school.) We have a nice party or special visitor each quarter for students who meet their goals. At the end of the year it was a magician and a "make your own taco" bar. The kids had a blast. All of my students got to go.

    AR can be a useful tool, but it is not being used appropriately in so many circumstances. It is sad.
     
  17. dbcteacher

    dbcteacher Rookie

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    Hey hojalata, how do you listen while they silent read? :haha:

    I think AR has its place. We use it. The point goals are never so high that those are the only books the student will have time to read. I use it also as a quick check to see if students have really read the book, because I haven't read all of the books in my library either. Even if I had, I probably wouldn't remember them all. I just checked all of the books in my classroom library before school was out and I think about 25 books were not on the list. I prefer AR to Scholastic, there are many more books on the list. It is only a tool. Obviously some districts are putting way to much importance on this one tool. I don't think it is useless, but it definitely should not be used to determine reading levels and grades.
     
  18. hojalata

    hojalata Comrade

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    Why would a student lie about reading a book, especially in 2nd grade? That says to me right there that their love for reading is long gone. If students are reading books at their level, that are interesting to them, they have no reason to lie about reading a book.

     
  19. RainStorm

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    I don't think it is "gone." I think in many cases, it was never there.

    Many, many students -- especially in an inner city school like I work in -- have no love for reading. IF they take a book home to read it to Mom, she tells them to "shut up and stop bothering her." I have seen so many students have absolutely no love of reading and when you look at their home environment, it is easy to see why.

    AR doesn't develop a love of reading -- but not having a love of reading isn't because AR took it away, either.

    (edit: I'm not implying that this only happens in inner cities -- only that I do see it in my inner city school. I would imagine the same thing happens in all walks of life.)
     
  20. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    :yeahthat:
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I am genuinely curious...can anyone provide some insight for me?
     
  22. sundrop

    sundrop Cohort

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    MrsC, the quizzes are multiple choice and are 5, 10, 20 questions long depending on the length/difficulty of the book. Each book is rated with a reading level, interest level, and point value. The ideal situation is that the teacher assigns an appropriate reading level range for each student to work within (this can change) and a goal for the number of points earned and the average % correct.

    We have a version of AR that allows us access to all of the tests that are available via the internet (over 100,000 tests!). You can also purchase tests individually and accumulate your own AR test collection. This is how we did it previously and we only had about 3,000 tests available for the students to choose from.

    The points are awarded based on how many questions you answer correctly. If a student got 8 correct on a 10 question quiz worth 5 pts, they would earn 4 pts. Homeroom teachers at my school assign a reasonable number of points for students to earn in a qtr and provide lots of classroom reading opportunities to achieve this goal. This is then incorporated into the reading grade.

    Hope this helps you understand the program a little more.
     
  23. peggy27

    peggy27 Cohort

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    I did that one year!!! I had an article about how ineffective AR was and I just happened to leave a copy in the copying room.
    We had 4th and 6th grade teachers basing their reading grade on AR> They would make kids stay in during recess if they didn't have enough points. That's when our district frowned on it. It is suppose to be a supplemental program, not a reading program we were told! They pulled funding on buying any new tests!!
     
  24. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    I use AR books for one of their silent reading books per week.
    I DO NOT use any points or rewards.
    There is no grade.
    It is one way to know that the children are choosing books at their level and actually reading them.
    I have an entirley different reading program.

    Their other silent reading books may or may not be an AR book...but my students usually choose AR.

    The AR program has quizzes for nearly every book written. However, you must purchase the quizzes so districts tend to not have many. We have most because we have a parent who works for the company and well...
     
  25. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    AR - just chiming in

    My school uses AR, but it isn't used for grades - except that I do record the students' AR comprehension grade on any AR chapter book I read aloud to them. It goes in a separate part of my gradebook labeled "listening comprehension," and all of those grades get averaged (also use SRA listening tapes and Nat'l. Geographic news magazine quizzes) into one reading grade.

    In our district's middle school, students have to read a certain number of points per quarter....I hate that!! They say it is to encourage reading, and to allow teachers to know what is being read and how well the students read. My own daughter is a voracious reader - but many books she chooses aren't on our AR list. MS teachers don't allow the kids to "make their own test," or even add teacher-made tests as I do on occasion. Now it is just another reason to celebrate leaving MS!

    At my school, we do really push 85%+ comprehension. Twice a month we have a school-wide celebration, and classes w/ 85% comprehension get a huge ribbon to hang on their doors. At the end of the year, we do a celebration and those reading w/ 85% comp or better get to participate in a fun activity, like a huge blow-up slide, a dunking booth, etc. We do have rewards for top point-earners for the two-week period and also for the quarter - students in the top 10 get called up before the entire student body and get a small wildcat stuffed animal to keep on their desktop until the next awards day. Periodically our p'pal will also do DQ dilly bars as a comprehension reward.

    I am always careful to train my class to let me know immediately if they get into the wrong test. I can get them out so it doesn't impact their comprehension.

    Bottom line - no grades, wish it wasn't point based, add your own tests frequently, and definitely encourage reading books not on the AR list! :2cents:
     
  26. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    As someone who learned to read at the age of four and has not slowed down since, I, too, am appalled with some of AR's aspects -- especially that it reinforces the notion that the students should read only because they have to, not because it is a great pleasure.

    Some of my students who excelled in AR have told me they don't like to read. :eek:

    While I am accountable to my P for AR scores, I also allow my students to read books just for the fun of it, even if the books are not in their level.
     
  27. **Mrs.A**

    **Mrs.A** Comrade

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    Are school uses AR..They track based on word count, not points. I pushed it this past year, but will not be doing that again. It will be available to the students if they want it, but I will no longer be making goals and keeping track of points/word count.
     
  28. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Our school has used AR for awhile now and gives rewards on the morning announcements to top scorers and also at the end of the year. I just sent the link to my my P.
     
  29. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I love AR and it works at my school.

    We have kds walking down the hall while reading their books, we have kids who could care less if they ever read a book , pick one up and read it. We have a gillion tests, and kids are still encouraged to read whatever they want to read.

    We have a high poverty school, kids have few books in their homes, education isn't valued there either. I'm sure it's not beneficial for 100% of the kids, but for the ones that it does reach it's beneficial.

    Research can be manipulated and interpreted to mean anything one wants it to mean.

    Neighboring districts are in academic distress, we're not. That's not research but real life success.
     
  30. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I had very limited experience with AR when working as a teaching assistant, we don't use it at our school. I do remember them having a big poster where kids listed their points in hopes of "winning".

    I do however run a book club that participates in a contest situation at the end of the year and the first year we participated, it I saw kids basically skimming through books for questions and not really enjoying what they are reading. It was the drive for competition.

    More recently, I have done it more like a literature circle and we discuss the different aspects of the books and I think they enjoy the reading this way. Could those of you who are forced to use this program do something like that? Have the kids who have taken the test on a certain book discuss it-more higher level questions or a critique of what they read? Just thinking of ways it could be used more meaningfully in the classroom.
     
  31. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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  32. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Thanks for the information, Hoot Owl. Another question, if you don't mind...how do you deermine an appropriate goal for the students--is it the same for all students in the class/grade or is it individualized? What incentives do students receive when they reach their goals?

    Although this type of program won't be happening in our school (for many reasons that don't have anything to do with the program itself), we are looking at developing some sort of reading incentive program.
     
  33. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I actually let the students set their own goals, but encourage them to earn at least 100 points by the end of the year, and I've had kids in second grade earn over 500 points. I don't know of any of the 13 teachers in 2nd grade who dictate how many points kids have to have. We have a fabulous lab tech who runs the AR program and she encourages all the 2nd graders to get into the 10 point club, but we have some who just can't make it, not many but a few.

    We have weekly celebrations to honor those who are achieving. We all applaud kids' successes, you can hear us cheering down the street. They are given 10 point dog tags, 25 pt., 50 pt., etc... At the end of the year we have a huge celebration with the community donating hundreds of dollars for prizes.

    The big deal of the program especially on my campus, 2nd and 3rd grade, is to develop fluency of reading and successful reading. If kids don't practice reading they aren't going to be strong readers. I think teachers have to buy into it or it's not going to be successful either. The teacher next door to me started using it this year, she didn't have it at her other campus. She had those kids pumped! She basically turned non-readers (who didn't want to learn to read) into readers by the end of the year. You can't MAKE a kid want to read but if it's something that's coveted by others you can give them some desire. I know the 3rd grade teachers are thankful when they have a new crop of kids coming in that are functional readers.

    AR is supplemental of course, I have literature circles and reading groups.

    AR is one of those few programs that has been around for at least 15 years. Not many programs in education last more than 4-5 years. They come.... and they go...

    MrsC, what program are you looking at?
     
  34. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    We will be looking at developing our own--"pre-made" programs aren't as prevelant here as they are in the U.S. and we need to develop something that would meet the specific needs of our school community--high ESL and Special Ed, dual-track (English track and French Immersion track). The Literacy Teacher and I will be working closely together next year on a few projects--this being one of them.
     
  35. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    MrsC

    Actually, AR has a companion program -- the STARs reading diagnostic program. The two are meant to be used in tandem. Students are STARs tested at the beginning of the year. It is a computer test that takes less than 15 minutes per student. This assessment gives the teacher a lot of data, but one piece is the student's independent reading range. Students are the supposed to read AR books from that reading range. There is a way to set the computer so it will not allow students to take AR tests on books that are below their independent reading range -- but again, many schools don't use this feature, because they want students to take AR tests on specific books that are read in class -- which often are not in a student's reading range. As their reading improves, documented by successful quiz scores, you can move them up. At the very end of the year, you STARs test again to document the increase in independent range. (Some schools actually STARs test every quarter -- but if you go to the RL site, they specifically say this is inappropriate and gives inaccurate results. This is part of the problem -- school districts bastardize this program in ways it was never intended. Some districts try to use these quarterly STARs tests to demonstrate that the AR program is successful -- but you simply can't make that leap because there are other teaching methods going on. The only way you can do this is by using a control group, and schools don't do this. )

    There actually is a list of "recommended" points and percentages that students should achieve while using this program. All you have to do is access that report on the program. The number of points a student should earn is based on their specific independent reading range. There are various selections based on the amount of computer time and reading time that is available to students in your program. Again, many schools come up with "their own" set of points and percentages -- totally ignoring the way it was designed to work. When you use the program in a different way from which it was designed, you can't expect to see the same type of results.

    THe program claims great success -- all though their research is considered by many to be suspect. (Do a web search if you watn to read all about it.) You will hear school districts tout wonderful statistics -- but I have actually looked up and obtained a copy of every single piece of research conducted by Renaissance Learning on AR -- and it does not match what most principals and school districts claim. If you ask RL about it, they will willingly admit that people constantly "quote" inaccurate information that is not based on actual data. Most of the research done on AR was done in 6th grade or higher. It isn't applicable to elementary school at all -- this would shock most elementary school principals and teachers who assume the statistics apply to them. They don't.

    The other major problem is the way school districts throughout our country have "adapted" this program -- and are using it in ways it was never intended. There are districts who use AR scores for 80% of a students reading grade! RL clearly states AR should NEVER be used to determine a student's reading grade. That isn't what it is designed for.

    AR does exactly what RL claims it does -- the problem is all the other "claims" that have gotten added in along the way. I've heard principals tout all kinds of statistics "70% of students in our schools make their AR goal show significant improvement in their reading grade." Hello? Does it occur to them that the students who are excited about reading are the main ones who make their AR goal? Or that the kids who consistently make their AR goals who are not typical "good readers" are in several special literacy programs that push AR -- but of course (sarcasm intended) those extra literacy programs have nothing to do with the student's improvement -- it is just AR. PUL-LEASE!!! I am always shocked and amazed at supposed educated people spouting statistics that are not only specious, but sometimes spurious.

    AR is a good program when it is used reasonably. It is not the be-all, end-all that some people make it out to be. It is a tool -- one of many, that is available to many teachers.

    I personally get offended that I am "required" to use it -- often to th exclusion of other teaching tools from which I see more results. I've worked in a school district where, for a time, AR was pushed more than direct reading instruction!!!!!!!! Fortuantely, that changed -- but for 2 agonizing years, I was REQUIRED to use a student's AR score as 80% of his reading grade!!!!!!! Thank goodness those days are behind us. However, now we are REQUIRED to use a student's DRA score and their PALs score as 60% of their reading grade -- and personally, I think that is just as bad. Even worse, they alternate it -- 1st quarter is DRA, 2nd quarter is PALs -- so some students get an A and then a D, because they have great fluency but do awful on the word lists -- or vice versa. But I have no choice -- we have to input these scores, and the computer puts the score into our gradebook ast 60% of the score. 20% comes from other assessments that were never intended for grading. I only have control of 20% of my student's reading grade.

    But that is another topic.
     
  36. RainStorm

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    I just went to their website. Since I last read the research, there have been a few more research studies done. So I wanted to correct my statement about that. It has been about 2 years since I read through all of their research. Accoring to AR's own website, while 129 independent students have been done -- only 29 of those were experimental or quasi-experimental. Only 20 were every published in a peer reviewed journal (the gold standard for educational research.)

    I read through most of these studies when I did a research project on AR for my post-graduate work. I wasn't impressed with any of the research.

    If you are really interested, dig up the research yourself. Just be aware that all those statistics that you hear people quote about AR -- most of them are based on studies that were not experimental, and some of which were done on very small, heterogeneous samples (like hispanic 6th grade boys -- with a sample size of 30.) Those results simply don't convey.
     
  37. RainStorm

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    MrsC,
    Here is how RL defines its product.

    What is Accelerated Reader?
    Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer based, reading management and motivational system designed to complement existing classroom literacy programs for grades K-12. AR’s goal is to motivate students to read using an individualized goal/point system. Student’s individual goals are based on their reading grade equivalent (GE) score from a standardized test, such as STAR Reading, coupled with the amount of time the student is able to devote to reading. AR translates GE scores into a zone of proximal development (ZPD) range that is used to determine the level of books from which the student can select.
    Students choose books or short stories to read from the school’s selected collection of books for which they have AR tests. AR provides extensive lists with tens of thousands of book titles and their corresponding grade levels and point values. Books are assigned a point value based on the number of words contained and its reading difficulty, as derived from a formula (ATOS: Advantage-TASA Open Standard readability formula) based on the Flesch-Kincaid readability index (Chall & Dale, 1995; Flesch, 1968, 1974). This formula takes into consideration the number of syllables in words and sentence complexity. Point values are calculated in the following manner: AR points = (10 + reading level) X (words in book/100,000). Students read at their own pace and document when and how much they read using the “Student Reading Log.”
    AR software provides comprehension tests featuring five to 20 multiple-choice questions. The technology presents test scores, points earned, and keeps records in order to help teachers and parents manage and track a student’s attempt to reach his or her goal. The test gives immediate feedback in terms of the number of points earned based on the point value assigned the book and the number of correct answers on the test. For example, for a book worth 10 AR points, the student would receive 10 points for a score of 100 percent, 9 points for 90 percent, and so on. However, the student must score at least 60 percent to earn any points.
    The program automatically generates several types of reports: individual student, class, grade level, and school reports. Included in the individual student report is information concerning the quantity and GE level of the books read, testing dates, scores and total number of points earned. Another teacher generated report is the “at risk report” which identifies students who are at risk of not reaching their individual goals. Students may be identified at risk for not taking quizzes or not achieving their goal in terms of percentages or points earned.
     
  38. RainStorm

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    How is Accelerated Reader Aligned with Current Reading Research?
    The purpose of AR is not to provide reading instruction. Rather, its purpose is to help motivate students to read more books at an appropriate level of difficulty by using a point system tied to individual goals. AR seeks to motivate students to read advanced leveled books and to increase their personal reading time. Though many studies find that the best readers read the most and that poor readers read the least (Donahue et al., 1999), these studies provide correlational, not causal evidence. This means that if you read more, you could become a better reader, but it could also be true that better readers choose to read more. The National Reading Panel’s analysis of programs that encourage students to read more could find no gains in reading as a result of such programs (2000). This does not mean that programs that encourage students to read more do not cause gains in student reading achievement – future studies should examine this possibility – but it would be unwarranted to conclude that encouraging reading has a positive effect on reading achievement (NRP, 2000).
    Professional development for AR focuses primarily on the use of the program through technical support and does not include opportunities for teachers to increase their knowledge of reading instruction. However, AR provides instructional opportunities for teachers and schools to use the reports generated by AR to help realize the importance of reading practice
     
  39. RainStorm

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    Here is a summary of AR research

    Okay, here is what I was looking for. Here is a summary of the basic "research." Remember -- this is the research provided by the software manufacturer as a marketing tool! If this is the strongest research they can quote -- what does that say? (Just my opinion, of course.)

    Research Support for Accelerated Reader
    Accelerated Reader was introduced in 1986, and its effectiveness as a tool to help teachers manage and monitor their students’ reading practice depends on its implementation. The feedback generated by AR and provided for the students, teachers, parents, and administrators is useful only when the program is implemented as a motivational program with guidance from trainers and consultants. Several studies seem to suggest that AR is helpful to K-12 students.

    According to Peak and Dewalt (1993), an increase in the levels of reading time correlated with a higher level of achievement in reading. They investigated the impact of AR on 50 ninth graders in North Carolina who had used the system for five years; these students made greater gains in reading than comparison students who received the same basic language arts programs but had no exposure to AR. Over the 5 years, experimental students went from a mean of 716 (scale score) on the California Achievement Test (CAT) at grade 3 to a mean of 788 at grade 8, an average gain of 14.4 points per year, while comparison students went from 724 to 766 (8.4 points per year). However, the retrospective nature of this study and the absence of random assignment or of well-matched controls limits one’s ability to conclude that AR was responsible for the students’ reported gains.

    Samuels and Wu (2004) conducted a more tightly controlled study comparing AR to a contrast condition in which children had the same amount of time each day (15 minutes) to engage in silent reading during six months of the school year. Whereas the AR students completed the comprehension quizzes after reading each book, contrast students were asked instead to complete a book report when they finished each book. Initially, children were randomly assigned to one of four classrooms in which the same reading curriculum was taught, and then these classrooms were randomly assigned to either AR or the contrast condition. There were 28 and 39 participants across two classrooms in the AR and contrast groups, respectively. All students were pre- and post-tested on the GRADE, a norm-referenced assessment of vocabulary, sentence comprehension, and passage comprehension, and on a measure of oral reading speed. Pre-testing on the STAR reading test also was used to determine the children’s reading level at the beginning of the study so that children could be directed to appropriate books.

    Results indicated that the AR participants gained significantly more on the passage comprehension and total comprehension (i.e., passage and sentence combined) measures. On passage comprehension, the AR participants gained almost three times as much as did contrast groups, whereas on the composite measure the AR students gained more than twice as much as the contrast participants. On the other measures (e.g., vocabulary, sentence comprehension, reading speed) the AR group’s advantage did not reach significance. Results from this study, given that it involved random assignment to condition and employed several measures of reading outcome, provide strong support for the efficacy of the AR program in supporting reading growth.

    Strengths & Weaknesses

    Strengths of Accelerated Reader:
    • It can be motivating for many students.
    • Students independently choose material to read at their own pace.
    • Students are provided with immediate results.
    • AR Reports are generated for students, teachers, parents, and school administrators.
    • Teachers can monitor students’ reading habits and progress in the program.
    • Lists of leveled and coded books are provided to match students’ reading levels to appropriate books.

    Weaknesses of Accelerated Reader:
    • While an extensive list of book titles and quizzes is provided, students are limited to the books available in their school.
    • Test items do not assess inferential or critical thinking skills.
     
  40. teach2read10

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    Mindless Quizzes?

    You describe the Ar quizzes as "mindless". Do you think AR type programs would be more beneficial with better testing?
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2009
  41. RainStorm

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    Who refered to it as "mindless?"
     

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