Points being assigned for accelerated reader



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POINTS BEING ASSIGNED FOR ACCELERATED READER
We use AR purely as a supplemental reading program - students accumulate points and use them to buy various prizes at the end of the year.  It is not a class grade. 

 
I am not personally a fan of the AR program as I believe it discourages reading as a recreational activity, but we have had this program for many years and it seems to work well for many students.

We use Accelerated Reader as a supplemental program, only.  By providing AR, we are trying to encourage students to read for enjoyment and to develop the lifetime habit of reading. For this reason, we do not make AR part of any requirement or grade.   Next year, we are going to use Accelerated Reader Enterprise, which is all on-line.  Students will be able take quizzes on any book from any library.  We will not have to purchase and install quizzes on our system any longer.  Your school may already be using AR Enterprise.

My district is a K-8 240 student district. We only use Accelerated Reader as an incentive. Teachers set classroom goals (I don't know what each level is) and students are rewarded with a pizza party, certificate etc. We don't use AR as part of the grade, but do use info at PT conferences. We use their web-hosting so students can access it from home if they choose. We don't use it for grades

 because we want to only reward reading.

At K-5 in our district we use AR as an incentive only.  Point totals are kept by the librarians and posted weekly on their doors.  When students complete and pass an AR test they get to enter a drawing for prizes given quarterly--free books usually, but a bike is awarded at the end of the year. Top point getters have a pizza party at the end of the school year. Students have no point requirement in those grades, just incentives if they do read the books and pass the tests.

In grades 6-12 there are point requirements by quarter for each reading/language arts class.  These requirements are figured as a part of the quarter grade, but not getting the total required points does not automatically earn them an "F" grade.  A student who gets 22/25 required points would still receive an 88% (B) grade for that component of the final grade.  Most 6-12 teachers use AR as a part of the grade, but a few use it as extra credit points only. We do not have a district-wide policy on AR. Each teacher is free to use it (within reason) as they wish.
Personally, I find that at the early levels it is very difficult for poor readers to accumulate many points.  Most K-2 books are only worth one or two points, so for a poor reader to get even 10 points is sometimes a struggle. I also find that at the high school level there are few books in our hs library that are on the level of our poor readers, so even finding books at their level is a struggle, let alone reading them and taking a test on them. We have made progress in getting high interest/low level reading material at the high school, but progress is slow.

We don't have a set policy.  It can vary from grade to grade.  Some

teachers include it as part of the grade and some use it as extra

credit.
You have Accelerated Reader and your teachers are making arbitrary 

choices about what number of points students should have, you aren't 

using the program to its fullest. We have 325 students and use Star 

Reader (a product from AR that costs about $500) to give the kids 

periodic tests to check their reading level. Based on the reading 

level, the number of points is calculated. The goal should be 

attainable and should stretch the child a little bit, but not much. AR 

is designed to build many small successes. The Star Reader program is 

the key to making the program "fit" individual students.

Star Reader really helped us avoid many of those arguments from parents.

Our program is incentive based and students are not penalized in any way.  Based on STAR test results - students are given an individual goal (ZPD range).  Grade level goals are also set.  At the conclusion of each quarter, AR achiever celebrations are held.  The principal holds this activity and has had as many as 260 students participating.  If students make goal for all 4 quarters, then another special activity is held.  In the past a camp out has been held at the elementary.


Our purpose of this program is to encourage the love of reading.  As soon as a grade is assigned, this will be lost on many students.  Students pick their own books according to their ZPD range.
It was never designed to be used as part of the grade. There is a signficant feeling among the field that using it so competetively actually destroys the motivation to read rather than increasing it. It was intended to be used as only a motivational tool and I think the parents have some legitimate concern. I am not sure how to balance that with getting kids to read for pleasure. As a new superintendent, I have not delved to deeply into it in my current district. We seem to have much less controversy about the program in this district than in my prior one so I think teachers are using it appropriately and not requiring a minimum number of points, but rewarding students who accumulate points. I would venture to say that there are kids who are doing very little with it, but I could be wrong.

In my last district, AR was being used for 40% of the student's grade and I was attempting to change that when I left for another opportunity. It's use was serving as a reason for teachers to have student read for on full class period a week and teach only 4 out of the 5 class periods in the week.

Our district purchased the Renaissance Learning package to the Accelerated

Reader.  It is fabulous!  Our students take the STAR test and read at their

ZPD range, which is their reading ability level.  The students are reading

books at their ability levels and they Renaissance Learning program has over

100,000 AR tests on line.  We now give a grade based on their reading logs

which reflect the daily number of minutes they have read.  The teacher also

checks their reading log and their test results to average their grade.

Everyone is successful reading at their ability level and not having the

pressure of points. 

My suggestion is to check into the Reading Renaissance Program. 

We are looking at going to the 85% rule.  Student proficiency on all tests must average 85%.  I believe this will ensure that the students are comprehending what they are reading.  Along with this comes the issue of how can we be sure the students are reading?  I believe there still needs to be some sort of point goal. Some students would take quizes until they have the 85% and then stop for the month/quarter.

Here is my input, right or wrong.  We used AR at my current school and at my previous school. We struggled with the grading component and worked through those issues at each place.   I have attended several Reading Renaissance conferences, including the 2001 National Conference in Las Vegas.  Reading Renaissance does not endorse using AR as a grade and leaves that decision up to the local school.  It does, however, stress that setting a single number of points that all students must achieve as going against the purpose of AR.  For example, if all 5th graders must read 25 points per quarter, AR would disagree with this.  AR is supposed to be individualized for each student, with each student having his/her own goal. 

We set goals for all students in grades 5-8.  Elementary uses AR more for supplemental purposes.  Jr. High goals are based on a student's reading ability.  Goals are set per quarter and calculated into the grade as a test grade/%age of the quarterly grade.  This is calculated in at the end of each quarter.  If a student reaches 85% of his/her goal, then they get 85% for that portion of the grade.  If they receive 100% of their goal, their grade is 100%.  Since AR is designed to meet the needs of struggling readers, we cap the number of points a high reader needs to earn.  When I first arrived, some students were required to read 100 points per quarter.  We have now set the limit somewhere between 25-35 points per quarter for the high readers.  (I don't exactly remember what the cap is.)  AR is not designed for them because they are already good readers.  After high readers achieve their goals, they can read what they like.  AR is designed to motivate and challenge the lower and middle/average readers, by having the teachers monitor that they are reading books in their zone and continuing to tweak their ZPD if necessary so that students are being challenged, but still comprehending what they need. 

AS for the school where my own children attend, they are all over the place.  At some grade levels, the kids have goals.  At others, the kids all have to read the same number of points.  I haven't had issues with that since all three of my sons are good readers and can do well in whatever setting.  I do know, however, that some of my sons' classmates have struggled when expected to read the same number of points as the high readers, but can't seem to read books with high enough point values to get there because their reading level is so low. 


Our students take the STAR test three times a year: beginning, just after winter break, and at the end of the year. We use the first STAR test to determine beginning reading level. From there, Accelerated Reader has a chart that recommends the number of points to assign for the grading period based upon the score of the STAR test. For the most part, the score on the STAR test is a very strong indicator of the level of reader that each student is. The chart has set up for the number of instructional minutes each day that are dedicated to Accelerated Reader.


    Secondly, we take the student in mind when looking at assigning Accelerated Reader points. A student with a goal of 25 points and is earning 40+ points in a quarter will have their goal adjusted up to challenge them to keep that high level of success. We always conference with a student and take input from them as to what their goal should be. Rarely do we ever lower a student’s point total. We make sure we monitor the students progress by posting the % of the goal that they need to be at each week. Being on a 9-week grading period, each week constitutes an increase of 11% to the reading goal to meet the ultimate goal.
    For grading, it is worth 50% of their overall reading grade. We take in account % of the goal and % correct with respect to 85% and combine them together for their AR grade. If a student has a 90% correct average for their tests, they get the equivalent of 100% for that component.
    We offer rewards to students that meet their point goal and also their % correct goal. Last year our first quarter reward was an afternoon at Barnes and Noble, second quarter we had a “mini-cinema” where we showed movies to the students in various rooms, third quarter we went to a theater and watched “Horton Hears a Who” and fourth quarter we went fishing for the day.

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