At a Glance
Accelerated Reader is a computer-based program that we use to monitor reading practice and progress.
It helps teachers guide children to books that are on their individual reading levels.
Children take short quizzes after reading a book to check if they’ve understood it.
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a popular reading program used in many schools. Here’s what you need to know about Accelerated Reader and how it might impact the children in our school. school.
What Accelerated Reader Is—and Isn’t
AR helps teachers track children’s’ independent practice and progress with reading. It’s not specifically designed for children with learning and attention issues. But teachers can use it to help guide struggling readers to books they can read successfully. The program doesn’t teach reading skills and strategies. It’s intended to encourage children to read independently, at their own level and pace.
The idea behind AR is that children enjoy reading more when they can select their own books. (The program has more than 150,000 titles to choose from on its BookFinder list.) Each book has online “reading practice” quizzes, which you may hear referred to as “AR tests.” Teachers use these quizzes to track each student’s progress and set appropriate goals for each.
How Accelerated Reader Is Used
There’s a process behind how each child uses the program in school.
Teachers determine each child’s reading level. The program provides a multiple-choice assessment that takes children about 15 minutes on a computer. Teachers can also use results from other assessments or their own judgment.
Each child is assigned to a specific range of books on the program’s BookFinder list. Books in that range will be challenging for the student but not too hard to read. This concept is called a zone of proximal development (ZPD). In AR, it’s used to guide book selection.
Children choose a book that’s in their ZPD. A teacher or teaching assistant may help with selecting books. AR recommends that children spend about 30 minutes in school each day reading their books independently.
After finishing a book, the student takes a short, multiple-choice online quiz. It checks if the student has read the book and understands it. Children usually take their quizzes in the classroom or library during the designated reading time.
Children usually stay at the same ZPD and reading level for a set time. That’s usually a marking period. At the end of that time, children take a 20-minute reading assessment. It’s used to adjust the books that each student can select. A teacher may raise or lower a child’s ZPD for the next time period.
How Accelerated Reader Monitors Progress
In addition to quizzes, AR also uses a “point goals” system. Every book on the BookFinder list has a point value. Teachers set specific goals for each child. They include goals for reading comprehension, difficulty of material and a target number of points. The goals are based on the child’s ZPD and reading level.
Children are expected to reach their individual goals within the marking period or other set time, usually a term. When teachers adjust a child’s ZPD, they create a new set of goals. These are used to motivate students during the next time period.
Children earn points for every book they read. The number of points is based on a book’s length and difficulty. For example, a 3-point book may be a short, somewhat easier choice. A 10-point book would be longer and more challenging.
Children can also earn points when they take the quiz for each book. Passing a quiz requires a score of at least 80. However, if they score higher than 60 percent on the quiz, they receive a fraction of the total points they could earn from it.
If a child doesn’t pass several quizzes, the teacher may adjust goals or explore why the child is having trouble. A teacher can change the books a child may select at any step in the process.
(author Peg Rosen- www.understood.org)