When Goldilocks sat down to eat the porridge left by the Three Bears, she found one bowl too hot, one too cold, and one just right. In similar fashion classroom students often find themselves with books that are too hard, too easy, or just right. How can a parent or teacher discover that “just right” book for a child? One way is to take advantage of the information provided by the Accelerated Reader Program. This program is an integral part of language arts at Beaver Dam Elementary School.
Accelerated Reader (AR) is a software program that monitors individual reading progress. Students are assessed using the STAR test which identifies each student’s grade-equivalent reading level and instructional reading level. This information enables students to be given books to read which will be “just right”. The Leveled Library Reading Program provides students with books to take home each evening and read which are on a student’s reading level. Parents sign forms which signify the books have been read, providing a positive bridge to learning between the school and home.
After a student has read a book, an online test can be taken to determine if the student retained information from what was read. These assessments are call “reading practice quizzes”. Students take them in their own classroom or in the computer lab. Vocabulary building exercises are also available, making it possible for English Language Learners to increase their working vocabulary.
Many studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of using AR with students. For example Ross, Nunnery, and Goldneder (2004) conducted a study of 1,665 students from eleven schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Students who used AR as part of their instruction demonstrated greater gains in reading than students who did not have access to this program. Another study conducted by Nunnery, Ross, and McDonald (2006) found that students with learning disabilities showed greater reading progress with high implementation of AR than similar students who were not able to use AR.
AR reports are easily generated which can provide information for teachers and parents. Beaver Dam teachers can access the information at any time. Parent reports are sent home regularly and generated in both English and Spanish. Students can chart their own progress by logging into the program.
To further motivate the eager readers, Alexander Eagle has set up a series of goals for each grade level. This is displayed in Miss Susan’s restaurant so everyone can keep track of the “Reading Race”. Once students have earned five points, their name is put on the wall, and the race is on! Various prizes are awarded as the points add up. There are currently 191 students in the race. These voracious readers have taken tests on 5,234 books!
The program runs smoothly thanks to the generous time given by Mrs. Colleen Garlick to distribute books to students on a daily basis. Also providing motivation with a Reader Leader party each month is Mrs. Cindy Stevens, primary teacher. The Accelerated Reader Program is just one learning activity that has been incorporated into the Beaver Curriculum since Mrs. Phyllis Leavitt became Top Eagle and school principal. It is proof of the good that can come when dedicated people work together to make learning fun!