Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Accelerated Reader

In an essay at the NYT Book Review, Susan Straight bemoans "the rise of Accelerated Reader, a 'reading management' software system that helps teachers track student reading through computerized comprehension tests and awards students points for books they read based on length and difficulty, as measured by a scientifically researched readability rating." Never having heard of Accelerated Reader, I found Straight's essay informative and well-reasoned. If poorly implemented, Accelerated Reader has some frightening consequences:

Librarians and teachers report that students will almost always refuse to read a book not on the Accelerated Reader list, because they won’t receive points. They base their reading choices not on something they think looks interesting, but by how many points they will get. The passion and serendipity of choosing a book at the library based on the subject or the cover or the first page is nearly gone, as well as the excitement of reading a book simply for pleasure.

If you have children in a school that's adopted the Accelerated Reader system, you'll want to read Straight's essay.


Zibilee said...

I'm lucky that my kids like to read for pleasure, but the consequences of this system are a little depressing so I am glad that their schools haven't adopted it.

Melissa said...

Thank you for posting about this. Both of my kids are in the Accelerated Reader program at school, so I will definitely be reading this. They do enjoy choosing their own books and will read on their own, but I can see where it could negatively impact a kid's reading choices.

Great blog, BTW (found you through BBAW!)

Mardel said...

I came here from Lost in Books.

On the other side of the coin;
We have accelerated reading (well we had it last year) and although I see how some kids might limit their choices, we had a huge amount of children reading more than they ever have before. Kids who were not "readers" were taking part so they could earn points and awards. We hope that afterwards, they see how fun reading is, and have had their minds opened up to reading for fun. I'm sure that there are some kids who will read what they want, regardless of how many points, or no points.

I can see pros and cons to this thing. The other part, is that the program is extremely expensive for the school, over $1,500 dollars, depending on school population. And apparently, you have to pay every year along with a set-up fee. It would seem that not all schools would be able to afford it. Some of the schools that could really benefit from it, probably won't be able to afford it, especially with budget cuts and other necessities they have to buy.

Mark Pennington said...

Following are short summaries of the most common arguments made by researchers, teachers, parents, and students as to why using AR is counterproductive. Hence, The 18 Reasons Not to Use Accelerated Reader: