There are many educational programs that school districts use in their classrooms to help students with lessons and subjects. To help better understand a child’s reading comprehension, some districts have integrated into their curriculum a program called Accelerated Reader (AR for short).
What is the AR reading program? AR is a program from the company Renaissance, which also provides districts with STAR tests that measure students’ proficiencies in both reading and math.
The AR reading program isn’t focused on teaching children to read. Instead, it provides a methodology for helping discern what children comprehended from books they read in the classroom or at home.
Here’s what parents need to know about Accelerated Reader.
How Does AR Measure Comprehension?
Accelerated Reader is not designed to measure a child’s comprehension as it relates to classroom literacy benchmarks or abilities. Accelerated Reader offers quizzes for thousands of book titles across genres; these quizzes are designed to test a child’s understanding of what they read.
When a student passes a quiz in AR, they earn points via the program. Teachers can set up comprehension benchmarks in Accelerated Reader that are related to the points system. For example, some districts might set AR to only award points when the child scores an 80 percent or higher on a quiz.
In addition, lower passing scores could earn fewer points. A perfect score could earn the child the full amount of points for a particular quiz.
Teachers could offer a rewards system related to AR points. Each school or class might have a different AR rewards system and prizes might be offered at different point benchmarks.
Longer Books = More Points
All books offer different point values. The length of the book and the difficulty of the book correlate to more points in the Accelerated Reader program.
Some teachers might struggle with issues related to point systems, though. When children are trying to earn prizes, and when they correlate books to those prizes, students might determine that it’s easier for them to read a lot of shorter or easier books to earn points than to read longer books at higher levels.
While the point system can be motivating for some children, others simply could see the reward as the end goal. These students might read only for the reward and they might not focus on challenging their minds with high-level books. Some students could perceive reading more challenging books as a detriment when they are focused only on earning a prize.
Renaissance offers a query tool called AR Bookfinder that allows parents, students and teachers to search for book titles to understand their point value, reading level and additional information about the book.
AR Bookfinder can be a useful tool for parents who are trying to find books for their child that help them earn points via the program since not all book titles are included in AR. Parents also can use the resource to better understand the points system in the program.
One interesting detail related to AR Bookfinder, though, is that parents might discover that ‘reading level’ correlates to the word choice or linguistic composition of the book and not the interest level or the maturity level. For example, parents who search for The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde will see that the reading level is noted as 7.7—this denotes a reading level correlating to the seventh month of the seventh grade.
However, this book is often read for college-level courses. While a seventh grader could read the book, they might not have the life experience or maturity to fully understand the meaning and metaphorical context of the book. Some younger children could read at a seventh grade level, but the book probably wouldn’t be an appropriate choice for these young readers.
Parents can explore different books via AR Bookfinder, but they might also decide to research the book to determine if their child can fully understand it or has the emotional maturity to read it.
The Controversy of AR Book Levels
Some students and parents love Accelerated Reader. Many school districts use the program and embrace it. However, some authors have criticized AR. The concern is related to how Accelerated Reader levels their books.
Again, while books are leveled by difficulty, parents need to step in and research the books to ensure that they are the best fit for the child. Just because AR states a book is leveled for a seventh grader doesn’t mean that it matches the student’s level of maturity.
Do Other Reading Programs Work with AR?
Parents who use reading programs at home to help their child gain fluency and confidence might wonder if the books or content in the program is compatible with Accelerated Reader. Not all books or stories are among the titles in AR Bookfinder. If a title isn’t included, then the child will not be able to take a quiz and earn points.
For many children whose schools participate in AR, the points are important as they might lead to other rewards at school. If a child reads books in a reading program that aren’t offered via AR, the child might feel frustrated and not want to continue the reading program.
Reading is always beneficial, and reading should be its own reward. However, if students are expected to meet an AR goal in class, they will want to focus on books that are included within Accelerated Reader.
What reading programs are compatible with Accelerated Reader? Readability is an app-based reading program that includes stories and books leveled for each child. Books in Readability also are included in Accelerated Reader!
When a child uses Readability, the books that they read within the program help them to gain reading fluency and confidence and also can be used to earn points in AR. In addition, Readability is designed with a built-in AI tutor and this one-on-one guidance can help children feel more prepared for AR quizzes.
This tutor is designed to understand and recognize a child’s voice. Children read stories aloud when they use Readability. If they struggle or stumble, the tutor will understand that they need help. In addition, the tutor will ask the child questions at the end of every book or story to measure the child’s comprehension.
If a child misses a question on a Readability comprehension quiz, the tutor will show the child the section of the story that answers the question and will read the section to the child. The tutor will then give the child another chance to correctly answer the question.
Readability helps children better understand the book that they are reading. When they go to school and take the AR quiz, they might feel more confident about answering the questions related to the story.
Parents can look up the AR point value for every Readability book via AR Bookfinder. In addition, Readability also helps parents understand how many points children can earn for each book they read in the program.
Other Ways Readability Can Help Children with AR
Readability also helps children prepare to take AR quizzes by focusing on tools and resources that help enhance the reading experience for different learning styles. Here’s are more ways that Readability can help children gain a better understanding of stories and tackle those AR quizzes:
Readability Improves Mastery of Vocabulary
Every book in Readability includes a vocabulary list. However, children can tap any word in a story to hear the meaning or to hear it used in a sentence. The discovered word is then added to the child’s word bank. Children can access all their vocabulary words at any time to review their meaning and gain mastery. Vocabulary review and mastery can be an essential tool when taking comprehension-related quizzes via AR.
In addition, both auditory and kinesthetic learners (those who learn by touch) can benefit from the tap, explore and hear features that Readability provides.
Readability Lets Children Listen to Stories
Some children are auditory learners; this means that they understand better when they hear instructions. Apps that read to children—like Readability—can help children who are auditory learners. Readability includes the Storytime feature that lets children hear their favorite Readability books and stories. Children can listen to the story and follow along to further facilitate comprehension mastery.
Colorful Illustrations Provide Visual Cues
Visual learners understand best when they see a lesson illustrated. Readability includes colorful pictures throughout stories to help visual learners better grasp the fundamental plot points of the story. These visual cues could be beneficial for children who need more resources to aid their comprehension.
Is Readability Right for My Child?
Parents might notice that their child is struggling with AR quizzes. Perhaps children seem to be choosing books that are also below grade level. While some children read easier books to try to earn more points through Accelerated Reader, other children might choose easier books because they are struggling to read at grade level.
A reading program like Readability can help children gain reading confidence and hit grade-level literacy benchmarks. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that lets parents and their children explore the program to better understand the program’s design and features.
Interested in exploring Readability? Sign up for a trial today!