All students in Years 7 & 8 will use the Accelerated Reader programme. This is a programme which has been designed to track reading progress and assess comprehension, in order to ensure that students have understood the books they have read. Students are set targets and are continually monitored throughout the year to encourage progression and to highlight those who may be struggling.
How does the school determine my child’s reading level? We determine your child’s reading level using a STAR Reading™ test.
What is a STAR Reading™ test? STAR Reading is a computerised reading assessment that uses computer-adaptive technology. Questions continually adjust to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level is increased. If the child misses a question, the difficulty level is reduced. The test uses multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 20 minutes. Levels are given as a ZPD range. STAR tests are taken 4 x per academic year in order to keep track of progress.
What is a ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development)? ZPD is the range of books that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Your child will receive a ZPD range after taking a STAR Reading test. The ZPD from the STAR Reading test will show up in Accelerated Reader, making it easier for teachers and librarians to set goals for students. It’s important for children to read with a high degree of comprehension and within their ZPDs. ZPDs should be adjusted based on the needs of your child.
How does my child use this programme? Once the initial STAR test has been taken, your child will be notified of their ZPD range. They then choose a book from our Library that is within that range. Eg. 3.4 – 5.3. Books are labelled with the level clearly shown on the spine. Levels go up in increments of 0.1, so there are plenty to choose from. Once the book has been read, a Reading Practice Quiz will be taken. This should be taken as soon as possible after the book has been finished, whilst the memory is still fresh. A pass is 60%. However, the aim is to achieve 85% plus, in order to progress to a higher level. They then return the book to the Library and choose another.
Reading Practice Quizzes are the most common type of assessment in AR. The purpose of these quizzes is to determine whether your child has read a book, to measure literal comprehension of the book, and to provide immediate feedback. Each Reading Practice Quiz consists of 3, 5, 10, or 20 multiple-choice questions depending on book level and length. A quiz will be taken after each book your child has finished reading. This is a short quiz and can be done either on laptops in the classroom or on computers in a breakout area. (Please note – quizzes will only be available for books within the Accelerated Reading programme.) All books in our Library with levels on the spine are part of this programme.
- All students in Yrs. 7 & 8 will participate in the Accelerated Reading programme.
- Students MUST bring their Library book to the Academy every day. They may be asked to take out their books and read at various times.
- Books must be looked after and returned in good condition. It is a good idea to keep books in a plastic bag inside a school bag, to avoid spillage from drinks/food or wet weather damage.
- Students are required to read at home, 3 times every week for 30mins each time. (this is a minimum requirement – obviously if students wish to read for longer, it is their choice).
- All students will be issued with a reading booklet. Parents/carers should sign this booklet each time their child completes one of these 30 min sessions at home. These booklets should also be brought to the Academy every day. Booklets will be checked and signed by the Accelerated Reader teacher each week, to ensure that homework is being carried out.
- Students will read their books/take quizzes during their allocated Accelerated Reader lesson within the English timetable. Quizzes can also be taken during break or lunch times if a book has been finished on a different day to an allocated AR lesson. Books can also be changed during these times.
What happens if my child struggles with the STAR test or performs below the expected level for their age? Results are monitored after each STAR test. If a student is below a certain benchmark, they will be flagged up for intervention. This is carried out either in a one-to-one situation or in a very small group of 2/3 students and is designed to help the student to raise their attainment and become a more confident reader. Also, if any student suddenly performs significantly below a level previously attained, no matter how high it might be, they will be flagged up and mentored to try to find out why it may have happened and to agree ways in which we can work together to keep making progress.
Is there a way for me to track how my child is performing? Yes, there is! Once the initial STAR test has been carried out and your child has had a few weeks to settle in, you will be given a letter about Home Connect. You will each have a unique username and password for your child. You can log into the software from your home laptop/tablet/mobile phone and see how your child is doing. You can even set up an automatic email response so that each time your child takes a quiz, the results automatically appear in your inbox. (This password only allows you access to your own child’s results, so there is no invasion of privacy.)
My child already does well in school. Why does he/she need this? Even if a child is gifted at playing a musical instrument, he/she has to practice to develop that talent. Bright children, like all children, need to be challenged. Teachers using AR in their classrooms guide each student to books that give the child both challenge and success, regardless of the child’s level.
My child is not a strong reader. Can he/she still use Accelerated Reader? Accelerated Reader helps all children become better readers, from students with special needs to those who are gifted and talented. When children read books at an appropriate level, they experience success. Furthermore, teachers and librarians work with children to set appropriate goals based on each child’s reading level.
Is it OK for my child to read outside of his/her reading level? Just because a child can read the words in a book doesn’t mean the content is appropriate. The interest level of the material must be considered. Interest level is based on content—a book’s themes and ideas—and indicates for which age group a book is appropriate. If a book is too difficult for your child, they will find it difficult to pass the book quiz. This could knock their confidence and dent their self-esteem. If a book is too easy, then your child is not being challenged enough and this does not help them to make progress. For the purposes of the AR programme (in lessons and for homework), students should read books only within their level. If they wish to read other books in their own time, that is obviously their personal choice.
What if my child doesn’t like reading? Using Accelerated Reader, your child will choose the books he/she wants to read. The teacher or librarian will make certain the book is at the right level so that after completing the book, your child should do well on the AR Reading Practice Quiz. Success on the quiz should encourage your child to read more. With guidance from the teacher or librarian, and success, even students who say they don’t like reading should develop a love of reading. Reading is an extremely important skill – it is not simply about being able to read a book. If your child cannot read, then they are going to have great difficulty when studying for GCSE’s and taking exams across all subjects.
How can I help my child find books that are interesting to him/her? Visit arbookfind.com and click on Advanced Search. By conducting an advanced search, you can generate book lists that contain titles based on the criteria you enter such as book level, topic, interest level, fiction/non-fiction, etc.
How can I help my child become a better reader? As with anything, performance improves with practice. Encourage your child to read at home. Create a culture of reading in your household by reading with your child, visiting your local library or bookshop on a regular basis, letting your child see you reading, and discussing books that each of you has read. When reading with your child, stop and ask questions to be sure your child is comprehending what is read. Reading with your child, no matter what the child’s age, is an important part of developing a good reader, building a lifelong love of reading and learning, and creating a loving relationship between you and your child. Don’t necessarily leave it to Mum… it is important that Dads are involved with reading too (especially as role models for boys, who are notoriously reluctant readers). It doesn’t have to be just books. Find something you have a common interest in eg. read a football programme/a magazine/a recipe book. Make learning a family affair!
Hopefully, we have explained Accelerated Reader clearly and given you an insight as to what is expected of your child. It is vital that we work together to encourage and support students to progress.