As part of our commitment to ensuring that all students maximise their potential and are equipped to access the rigors of the KS3 and new KS4 curriculum, all year 7, 8 and 9 students take part in an online reading intervention programme called Accelerated Reader by Renaissance learning.
Over the course of the school year, all of our students in years 7, 8 and 9 take termly online reading tests known as the STAR test. This is a very sophisticated, online test which generates questions to assess the reading ability of each child. Depending on whether a child answers correctly or not, the level of the next question is adjusted, making sure that each child has a bespoke set of questions, suitable for their reading ability. This then provides teachers with a child’s reading age, standardised scores and importantly a ‘zpd’ or level. Once the initial testing is complete, students are being told what their reading zpd/level is, or the books in the library that match this. This is within a range and equates to a whole section of books, colour coded in the library.
The Accelerated Reader programme is for use at school; however, it works alongside ARBook Finder which is an online database of books compatible with the Accelerated Reader: www.arbookfind.co.uk
We recognise that reading for pleasure can look and feel different to reading which focuses on developing a full range of reading skills. Consequently, the Accelerated Reader scheme can run alongside the pupils’ own free choice from the range of books in the library. Teachers are spending a great deal of time at the moment, and over the next few weeks, explaining the system and assisting children to make appropriate book choices.
What is Accelerated Reader? (AR)
AR is a computer program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at their own Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) AR gives children, teachers, and parents feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.
Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them.
What does ZPD mean (Zone of Proximal Development)?
This is the reading range that best suits your child’s reading age and ability: books with within the ZPD will challenge your child, but will also be accessible. All fiction books in the school library are colour-coded and labelled with their ZPD:
For example, if your child’s ZPD is 4.1-6.3, they should be choosing books in the library that are colour-coded either purple, green or blue, depending on the level of challenge they desire.
How can I help my child become a better reader?
As with anything, performance improves with practice. Encourage your child to read at home and complete reading quizzes. You can access the reading quizzes and information about your child’s reading, at the following website: https://ukhosted83.renlearn.co.uk/1893564/
Students should not STAR test at home but they can QUIZ. They must only QUIZ on books they have read recently. Once they finish a book, they should aim to quiz within 48 hours. If your child chooses to quiz outside of school, it should be done independently and without the reading book in front of them.
All students have been given a unique username and password, which allows them to login and take reading tests once they have read a book. You can use the website to see what books have Accelerated Reader tests, how many books your child has read, the difficulty of each book and chart your child’s progress.
If you have any further queries or questions relating to the AR programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ms Evans (Accelerated Reader Coordinator) and Michael Williams (Acting Deputy Headteacher – Curriculum).