Accelerated Reader 101 For Parents


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This was created for an elementary school so that parents would understand the purpose, process, and expected outcomes of the Accelerated Reader program.

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  • AR assesses comprehension of a book. It does not teach the child to read nor does it, by itself, improve a child’s reading skill. It simply tests the reader on comprehension. The data generated by the program helps teachers guide their students toward appropriate reading materials to improve their reading skills. The program is simply one small part of an overall reading instruction program.
  • There are several ways a Midvale library will be marked as an AR title and students are taught to recognize the labels that we place on books. Students must memorize a simple password to log in to AR to take a test. The program then prompts the student to select the quiz that matches the book read. The number of questions on the quiz directly correlates to the readability level and the length of the title.
  • The program keeps a running tally of tests taken as well as detailed information about the student’s comprehension. That data helps teachers tailor his or her teaching to address the skills that need to be taught to help each student improve their reading comprehension. That sometimes means that listening skills need to be reinforced if read-alouds are not generating a high passing score. It could also mean that small group instruction could take place where students talk about their books to help them understand concepts like character, plot, and setting.
  • Readability levels do NOT correspond to grade level as many people assume. For example, a 5 th grade student who reads on a grade level of 5.0 would have a ZPD of 3.7 to 5.1 readability. The key to using the ZPD is to keep in mind that it represents a range of readability levels that will support the improvement of reading skills without frustration.
  • The company that produces the AR program investigated a wide variety of readability scales and, based on extensive research, came up with what they felt was the best of all of those scales. Their research showed that the strongest indicators of readability were “words per sentence” “average grade level of those words” and “characters per word.” In spite of the quality of these determinants, none of them factor in the appropriateness of the theme or maturity of the title. A prime example of this is the fact that “The Color Purple” has a very similar readability level as “Misty of Chincoteague” but the mature theme of “The Color Purple” makes it an inappropriate choice for an elementary reader. This is why it is so important to remember that AR is simply one tool in a much larger set of reading skills instruction that involves the student, the teacher, and the parents.
  • The STAR test always begins with 3 test questions to give the student a feel for how the test will run. A student should have a minimum of a 100-word reading vocabulary in order for the test results to be an accurate picture of the student’s skills. The test starts several grade levels below the students’ grade placement but then “adaptive branching” takes over by analyzing student response and giving further questions of appropriate difficulty. The test generally takes about 10 minutes and is designed to minimize frustration and anxiety.
  • The test results give the teacher a student’s grade equivalent, percentile rank and range, and a ZPD. That data helps the teacher set goals based on assumed 30-minute-per-day reading practice over the course of an 18 week semester. The teacher has the flexibility to adjust that goal up or down depending on the student’s particular set of circumstances. By setting goals based on ZPD it helps create equality throughout the classrooms so that all students’ goals are based on their individual readability range regardless of grade level.
  • 5 th Grade students are blocked from taking ½ point quizzes unless it is appropriate for that particular student. Chapter books range in points from 1 for early readers or “bridge” books up to 66 points for “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. Statistical data shows that students who’s average test score is between 85% and 92% are reading in their range, improving their skills, and primed for optimal reading growth. We often tell students that if they can read a book in 5 minutes and pass the test on it then the book was below their ZPD and they are not improving their skills.
  • Each teacher has his or her own classroom standards for AR quizzes, points, and goals so it’s a good idea to talk to your student’s teachers about expectations for AR.
  • We teach them the “5-finger” rule for selecting a book that is just right for them (demonstrate). Get with your child’s teacher so that you know what your child’s readability range or ZPD is so you can double-check that with the books they bring home from the library. Make reading a priority in your home – read with your child, let your child read to you, ask your child about their book and what they think about it, and most importantly, model reading to your child with newspapers, magazines, and books that YOU enjoy.
  • We teach the students how to recognize Midvale’s system for marking books that have AR quizzes – they are not shelved separately or in any kind of “special place” in the library. You can also access our list of quizzes on the web if you visit the public library and want to help your student select an AR title. Since we have so many, the quizzes are divided up into 3 groups under each category.
  • Please let us know if you need more information about AR and how you can help your student reach his or her full potential in reading. Reading for pleasure and information is a fundamental element in the success of your child in school and we all want to work together to make sure every Midvale student is reading at or above grade level.
  • Accelerated Reader 101 For Parents

    1. 1. Accelerated Reader® 101 for Parents Everything you wanted to know and more!
    2. 2. What is Accelerated Reader ®? <ul><li>Computerized learning information system </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment tool (monitor) </li></ul><ul><li>Diagnostic tool (manage) </li></ul><ul><li>Motivational tool </li></ul>
    3. 3. How does it work? <ul><li>Student reads a book marked “AR” </li></ul><ul><li>Student logs in to AR program </li></ul><ul><li>Student selects the quiz for that book </li></ul><ul><li>Student answers between 5 and 20 questions on the title read </li></ul>
    4. 4. Then what? <ul><li>Teacher gets test results </li></ul><ul><li>Diagnostic reports give teachers valuable information on students’ reading practice and literacy skills development </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher then guides student towards reading materials within their ZPD for improvement </li></ul>
    5. 5. What is “ ZPD ?” <ul><li>Z one of P roximal D ifference </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The range of book readability levels that will result in optimal growth in reading ability. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The range of books that will challenge a student without causing frustration or loss of motivation </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. How does AR determine “readability”? <ul><li>AR’s own formula (ATOS) </li></ul><ul><li>Three variables </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Words per sentence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Average grade level of those words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Characters per word </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does NOT factor in theme appropriateness! </li></ul>
    7. 7. How is my student’s ZPD determined? <ul><li>STAR Reader ( S tandardized T est for the A ssessment of R eading) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A series of 25 fill-in-the-blank questions that ask students to select appropriate vocabulary words to complete a sentence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer-adaptive: questions adjust in level as questions are answered </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. How are “goals” set? <ul><li>Based on STAR results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ZPD </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>30 minutes of reading practice daily per 18-week semester </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adjustable by teacher as necessary in his/her professional judgment </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. How do students reach their goals? <ul><li>Picture books are typically “worth” 0.5 points </li></ul><ul><li>“ Chapter” book points determined by length </li></ul><ul><li>Points earned based on “percent correct” on test (score of 80 on test earns 80% of book’s point value) </li></ul>Quality reading is indicated by an average quiz score of 85% to 92%
    10. 10. Does my student HAVE to read an AR book? <ul><li>Check with your classroom teacher </li></ul><ul><ul><li>4 th and 5 th grade have AR requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lower grades also provide incentives for points earned and tests passed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Midvale owns over 3,000 tests! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many choices for every reading level </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. How can I help my student? <ul><li>Make sure s/he is reading “just right” books </li></ul><ul><li>Help him/her select books within their ZPD </li></ul><ul><li>Let your student read some of his/her book to you </li></ul><ul><li>Ask about what s/he’s reading! </li></ul>
    12. 12. How do I know if my student’s book is AR? <ul><li>Midvale books are marked on the spine </li></ul><ul><li>Access our list of quizzes on the Media Center portion of our website! </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Quizzes listed by Title, Author, and Readability Level </li></ul>
    13. 13. Need More Info? <ul><li>Talk to your student’s homeroom teacher </li></ul><ul><li>See Mrs. Grigsby in the Media Center </li></ul><ul><li>See PTA’s AR Chairperson </li></ul>Happy Reading!
    14. 14. Midvale Mustangs Love to Read!