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Accelerated Reader:. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. A Presentation by : Donna Ahlrich Kacy Allen Aaron Lines Erica Wagoner Amanda Wiley. November 2004. The Top Ten AR Challenges and Solutions. The System of Incentives – intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation

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Accelerated Reader:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A Presentation by:

Donna Ahlrich

Kacy Allen

Aaron Lines

Erica Wagoner

Amanda Wiley

November 2004

The top ten ar challenges and solutions
The Top Ten AR Challenges and Solutions

  • The System of Incentives

  • – intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation

  • 2. The Tests and their questions

  • – too hard? too confusing?

  • 3. No tests for popular books

  • – tests too expensive? book too new, too old?

  • 4. Fiction vs non-fiction books

  • – does AR limit/shape reading interests?

  • 5. Questionable reading levels

  • – book’s reading level OR student’s reading level

The top ten ar challenges and solutions1
The Top Ten AR Challenges and Solutions

6. Making AR Books Easy to Find

– shelving, labeling, and more

7. Barriers to using AR

– ESOL, special needs, physical, lack of access…

8. When AR is mandated

– tying AR to grades or making it too important

9. AR integration into the curriculum?

- lack of consistency between grades/schools

10. AR is expensive

– where does/should the money come from?

The system of incentives the problems
The System of IncentivesThe Problems

  • Inconsistent implementation of AR program throughout school

  • Reward system unfair: points per book, grade level, learning abilities, ESOL, etc.

  • Lack of funds for rewards

  • Extrinsic not intrinsic motivation

  • Competition among students (and parents)

The system of incentives suggestions
The System of IncentivesSuggestions

  • School-wide AR system organized by Media Specialist based on Information Literacy Standards and student and staff input.

  • Rewards “cost” different number of points based on grade or reading level.

  • Rewards for meeting goal instead of points earned.

  • Incentives including raffles, awards, activities, and privileges instead of costly prizes.

  • Prizes: buy books not junk using PTO fundraisers.

  • Class or grade-level goals and rewards instead of individual – more teamwork less competition.

2 the tests and their questions problems
2. The Tests and their questions Problems

  • Discrepancy in book reading level versus quiz reading level

  • Some quiz answers are incorrect

  • Teachers may recent not being able to provide their own quizzes for certain books

2 the tests and their questions suggestions
2. The Tests and their questions Suggestions

  • Teachers can add their own quizzes to AR

  • Involve teachers in the program more by asking teachers to create their own quiz

  • Delete and correct quizzes that have incorrect answers

  • Modify reading level for existing quizzes

3 no tests for popular books problems
3. No tests for popular books Problems

  • Not enough funds to purchase quizzes for all AR books

  • Discourages reading of books without test

  • Promotes certain types of books with test

  • Encourages reading for points not for pleasure

3 no tests for popular book suggestions
3. No tests for popular bookSuggestions

  • Save funds by using Teacher-made quizzes

  • Up to 500 teacher-made quizzes can be used (900-1399)

  • Search the internet for existing teacher-made quizzes,

  • Teach a mini-lesson on how to submit quizzes to you in correct format

4 fiction vs non fiction the problem
4. Fiction Vs. Non-fiction: The Problem

  • As students get older, textbook reading takes over reading for pleasure. As informative reading takes the lead, the level of comprehension declines.

  • Inconsistency across the grade levels in implementation and use of AR has resulted in a decline in lifelong readers, resulting in lower levels of comprehension in non- fiction reading.

  • Accelerated Reader provides limited test titles for non-fiction books.

  • Media Centers may have fewer “interesting” non-fiction books from which to choose.

4 fiction vs non fiction suggestions
4. Fiction Vs. Non-fiction: Suggestions

  • Students who are read aloud to by teachers are more likely to read on their own, increasing levels of comprehension.

  • There should be a school/grade level consistency on how the program is used to create lifelong readers.

  • By using the AR program as a tool, instead of an isolated reading program, teachers can begin integrating non-fiction titles into their teaching curriculum, outside of the program.

5. Questionable Reading Levels

The Problem

  • Assigned reading level and/or points for a book not “correct”.

  • Discrepancies on the reading levels assigned students.

  • Is “auditory” reading the same as reading?

  • Too much parental involvement/help during test taking.

5 questionable reading levels suggestions
5. Questionable Reading Levels Suggestions

  • Levels and points are subjective. You can 1) write your own test, 2) add your own label, or 3) contact Renaissance Learning to petition to change it.

  • Most students are tested at least twice a year, so retest. Also, levels are suggestions only. AR does not restrict what a student checks out.

  • AR tests comprehension, but does have a feature to track if the book is read by or to the student. Teacher discretion dictates if auditory reading is allowed.

  • Use staff/teachers rather than volunteers for test taking supervision, including reading of tests.

6 making ar books easy to find the problem
6. Making AR Books Easy to Find The Problem

  • Where and how to shelve AR books in the Media Center.

  • Labeling AR book with reading-level.

  • Preventing embarrassing students checking out books below grade-level.

6 making ar books easy to find suggestions
6. Making AR Books Easy to Find Suggestions

  • Keep AR books mixed in with the non-AR books so all books can be easily located and to encourage children to explore non-AR books.

  • Use the AR labels that are provided by most major publishing companies.

  • Use different colored stickers on the binding for each reading-level to help students easily locate appropriate books (better for elementary students).

  • If worried about embarrassing students mark all AR books with same color sticker and teach students to locate reading level on cover (better for secondary students).

7 barriers to using ar the problem
7. Barriers to Using AR The Problem

  • Barriers due to the individual student’s ability, (Special Needs, ESOL or age - younger grades).

  • Physical barriers can include access (wheelchairs), availability and time restraints.

  • Barriers due to extra time and staff required.

7 barriers to using ar suggestions
7. Barriers to Using AR: Suggestions

  • Every student should be at their appropriate reading level, regardless of age or ability. Base rewards on personal goals not number of points.

  • Federal Law covers wheelchair accessibility. Use computer labs, media center and classroom computers for availability. Open the media center, and labs, before and after school, as well as during the day and lunch, for additional time.

  • Extra effort and organization are needed for any task taught to these students. Once the skills are adequately taught the extra effort will be reduced. Volunteers and peers can be used for extra support.

8 when ar is mandated the problem
8. When AR is mandated The Problem

  • Failing STAR tests to keep ZPD low

  • Large part of grade

  • Struggle to meet requirements

  • Varying point system difficult to manage

8 when ar is mandated the solution
8. When AR is mandated The Solution

  • Teacher-directed test

  • Same number of points

  • Modifications

  • Students show choice of book

9 integration into curriculum the problem
9. Integration into Curriculum: The Problem

  • School districts often implement the program into individual schools, but give no direction on how it is to be integrated into the curriculum.

  • By doing this, schools and teachers are not consistent across grade levels on how the program is used in creating lifelong readers.

9 integration into curriculum suggestions
9. Integration into Curriculum: Suggestions

  • In order to create lifelong readers from elementary school into the middle and high school age, school districts must collaborate with their individual schools and teachers in order to create consistency in the use of the program across all grade levels.

  • Consistency throughout the grade levels yields a higher percentage of lifelong readers.

  • Inconsistency from elementary to middle school shows a decline in lifelong readers.

10. AR is expensiveThe Problem

  • Expensive

  • Price of maintaining AR

  • Fiction focus

10. AR is expensiveThe Solution

  • Create your own tests.

  • Select bestsellers and award winners.

  • Base spending on PDEP.

Ar bibliography

Algozzine, Bob. (2003) “The Effects of The Accelerated Reader Program on the Reading Comprehension of Pupils in Grades Three, Four, and Five.”  The Reading Matrix 3, no. 3 (2003):  8796.

Anderson, J. (2001). “A skeptic is sold.” School Library Journal, 47(7), 31.

Brisco, S. (2003). “Counterpoint: AR: what are motives behind the motives?” Teacher Librarian, 30, 33-34. Retrieved October 26, 2004 from EBSCO database.

Chenoweth, Karin. (2002) “Keeping Score.” School Library Journal 47 no9 48-51 S 2001 Retrieved October 22, 2004 from EBSCO database.

Cuddeback, Meghan J.; Ceprano, Maria A. (2002) “The Use of AR with Emergent Readers.” Reading Improvement 39 no2 89-96 Summer 2002 Retrieved October 22 2004 from EBSCO database.

Everhart, Nancy. (2002) "Research: Accelerated Reader." American Library Association. 2002. Retrieved October 26, 2004)

Greer, J. (2003). “Point: a positive experience with Accelerated Reader.” Teacher Librarian, 30, 32. Retrieved October 21, 2004 from EBSCO database.

Ishizuka, Kathy. (2002). “Not so fast, Accelerated Reader.” School Library Journal, 2, 22. Retrieved October 26, 2004 from EBSCO database.

AR Bibliography

Ar bibliography1

Krashen, S. (2002). “Accelerated Reader: does it work? if so, why?” School Libraries in Canada, 22, 24-26. Retrieved October 26, 2004 from EBSCO database.

Lamme, Linda Leonard. (2003) “A Literature Perspective on AR” Journal of Children’s Literature 29 no2 37-45 Fall 2003. Retrieved October 22, 2004 from EBSCO database.

Lin, C. (n.d.). “Accelerated Reader.” Retrieved October 20, 2004, from

Murley, J. (2001). “How does the Accelerated Reader Program Effect Students Reading? Retrieved October 20, 2004, from Action Research Web site:

Paul, Terrance D. (2003) “Guided Independent Reading: An Examination of the Reading Practice Database and the Scientific Research Supporting Guided Independent Reading as Implemented in Reading Renaissance.” Madison, WI: Renaissance Learning, 2003. <>.

Pavonetti, L., Brimmer, K. ., & Cipielewski J. (2002). Accelerated reader: what are the lasting effects on the reading habits of middle school students exposed to accelerated reader in elementary grades?. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 46(4), 300-312.

Tise, M. S. (1999). “Accelerated reader - does it produce voracious readers?.” Retrieved October 20, 2004, from

Trelease, J. (2004). “What's New?.” Retrieved October 20, 2004, from 

AR Bibliography