This summer, students in READ 6313 Literacy Development and Language Study were asked to contribute a post to this blog.
Accelerated Reader is a software assessment tool used in the elementary, middle school, and high school grade levels throughout the nation; it helps teachers know their students’ reading level. The Accelerated Reader program is supposed to motivate all students to read, and improve their fluency and comprehension as well. There are many varieties of books that can be tested on by students from different grade levels. However, some of the AR quizzes I have read are comprised of very simple questions, which mean that students do not have to think in a higher order level to answer them.
It is recommended that in order for students to take an Accelerated Reader quiz, they read the book at least three times, without considering if the book is of the student’s interest or not. To add to the burden, students are expected to complete a certain amount of points every six weeks, which is called an AR goal. Many students get bored by having to read a book all those times just to take a quiz, and they sometimes lie, taking the quiz without reading the book, whichcauses them to get a bad grade. Furthermore, struggling readers get frustrated to know that sometimes they are the only ones that have not met the AR goal or that sometimes they already met the goal, but their average is too low and does not meet the requirements to accomplish the AR goal. The last day before each sixth six weeks end, we can see students outside their classrooms, siting on the floor in the hallways reading in a hurry just to meet the AR goal. Meanwhile, the teacher is teaching the rest of the class that has already completed their points, and those students that are reading outside fall behind because they are missing instruction.
I have seen students that are fluent readers that don’t take any quizzes, simply because they don’t want to read for that purpose. Due to that, there is always constant pressure to read, their purpose has changed to just take an AR quiz and complete the goal imposed not only by the school district but also by the campus that usually sets the AR goal higher than the school district does. This was the case with my youngest son when he was an elementary student, thankfully he still reads for pleasure, and ever since he was in fourth grade his reading level according to a Diagnostic Report by STAR Reading was at a twelfth grade level or higher. What he would do because of the pressure for completing the AR goal, was that he took several quizzes at the end of each sixth six weeks from books that he had read before. He was always the top AR reader in the campus with more than a thousand points each year, but it was just because my husband and I, along with his teacher persuaded him to take those AR quizzes. His response was always, “I don’t have to prove to anybody that I read and comprehend.”
Students are supposed to read for pleasure, so that they can choose the book of their preference, and teachers must provide them with opportunities to write a short summary about the books read. Unfortunately, most of the time, we are not able to do so because of the pressure we have to make sure that our students complete their AR goal.