What is an accelerated reader program? It is a curriculum-based assessment software program. The software provides an analysis and summary of a student’s comprehension of independent reading material results. These results enable a teacher to monitor both the quality and quantity of the reading practice engaged in by the students assigned to them.
Many school systems this computerized testing for comprehension monitoring and reading incentives. It has been a topic of debate as many researchers look at the software’s effectiveness in the education system. Like any other program, it has its pros and cons. Here, we discuss some of them. Let’s get started.
Pros of accelerated reader programs
1. Setting reading goals keep the students focused. Teachers use the accelerated reader program to set goals with students. They take time to look at what the students have been reading and how many points were earned during previous reading sessions. The program also enables them to know whether students are hitting the appropriate levels and making good decisions on where to set their goals.
From learning such details, teachers can hold discussions with students and guide them on which material is best to read. Such guidance helps students maintain consistent effort on their reading.
2. Large tests selections. The accelerated reader program offers students a lot of material to read. With over 180,000 materials on their database, students get to read a wide variety of books and do tests on them. Here they can select which genres to concentrate on.
The program makes good use of the STAR results which helps teachers to easily set the accelerated reader goals for students.
3. The tests help kids be accountable. The tests give of the intention of providing a quick check which keeps students accountable. With the test questions being mostly recalled ones, kids can know what happens within the story by monitoring and remembering certain details.
4. Has a parental portal that eases the communication process to parents. Teachers can share their students reading material with the child’s parents. The parental portal makes this process easier as they are also able to keep in touch with their kids learning progress and interests.
5. Motivates further reading. A student’s success with the accelerated reader tests can motivate them to read further. It is especially beneficial when a teacher focuses more on individual progress towards their reading goals rather than focusing on which student has the most points.
6. You get computer assistance. With an accelerated reader program, you get to access all your students’ data online. The computerized system assists teachers to save on time and making work easier for them. They are saved from having to spend more time on manual record-keeping that may even get lost.
7. Help a teacher keep track of independent reading levels. Accelerated Reader is a computerized program that helps the teacher keep and utilize the data of different students. The data helps them print and share students reading records with parents. A teacher is also able to keep track of what the students are reading and give them recommendations based on their reading lists.
8. It motivates students to read. Most students find that through the accelerated reader program, their passion for books is awakened. Some may not have never discovered which genres they prefer without the program.
Cons of the accelerated reader reading
1. Students can end up focusing on points versus the value of reading. Accelerated reader programs may lead some students to mostly focus on how many points a book is worth. They may end up ignoring great literature they may enjoy and learn for because it may not have enough points. It is a limitation as it limits the value of reading.
2. Limits reading to a narrow band of readability. An accelerated reader program is believed to limit reading to a narrow band. Some parents have raised complaints about their children reading books that are a few years above their grade level.
3. It may shift student’s focus to awards. The program may be misused in such a way that incentives that are based upon the points earned can shift the focus to awards and rewards you get from reading a great book. Many schools are known to use AR stores where students buy things using points. Others have treasure boxes when they reach certain milestones. Therefore, kids may read for a reward instead of for pleasure.
4. It tends to foster student and/ or teacher competitiveness. Using the accelerated reader program tends to foster competition between teachers and students. Such competitiveness can push students to read books without teachers’ support. In the end, it can lead to outright ostracism and hard feelings as some students may mock others for not earning enough points.
5. Misuse of the program. Students can cheat in the tests either by having others take the exams for them or by looking in the books for answers. It encourages the cheating culture as it is believed to create an environment of competition that ends up turning some kids off reading.
6. It limits the reading selection to its books. Most teachers who use the accelerated reader program tend to limit students to only the program selections. They do this as these selections have quizzes to maintain student’s accountability in independent reading. Currently, the program’s database has over 180,000 books in its database. It is a limited number of books available for adolescent and juvenile readers.
7. It tends to supplant portions of established reading programs Teachers who depend on AR tend to spend less time on direct reading instruction. Some teachers also have a biased notion that AR offers solid reading instructions. AR does not teach students how to read but tests their reading. Such conclusions make AR be a reductive program that supplants reading instructions.
8. It tends to limit differentiated and individualized instruction. With an accelerated reader program, students are not grouped by their ability or skills deficit. The teacher does not spend any additional time with remedial students hence students fail to receive different instructions based on their abilities. Furthermore, many teachers wrongly perceive the program as a differentiated instruction as all their students happen to be reading books at their reading levels.
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I’m a para educator at 7-12th grade school and have worked there for 15 years. When I started, the veteran reading teacher for 7-8th grade had a great system of teaching the class with book circles, fun book reports, lessons on reading, vocabulary, etc. Students developed a love of reading that lasted throughout high school. Now the new teacher has established AR the past 6 years, and students hate reading. The book choices are awful! Nothing remotely geared for higher readers in their age bracket. Seriously, how many 7th graders want to read books that are more than 50 years old!