All AR testing must be done at school. This is a requirement stated in our contract agreement with Renaissance Learning.
Many years ago a mother in the Midwest wanted to find a program that would help motivate and challenge her two children to read more on their own. It wasn’t that they were not good readers. They were reluctant to pick up a library book and read. She put her literary skills together with some computer help from her husband, and created a program where the children read books they liked and then tested their comprehension on a computer. Accelerated Reader (AR) was born!
The AR program reaches across the country to students from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. It is a computerized testing system which helps students increase their reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. Points are awarded based on the difficulty of reading level and the percentage of questions answered correctly. This means that all students have access to over 130,000 AR tests. One hundred to two hundred new tests are added weekly to this web based program.
How does AR work?
At Cedar Wood, all first through fifth graders are given the STAR (Standardized Test for Assessment of Reading) diagnostic test at the beginning of the year to determine the starting zone or level where that student will begin in the AR program. A kindergarten or student is given this test when his/her teacher determines he/she is ready. The score of the test indicates a zone of comfort for the student, and does not necessarily place a reading grade level on the child. This multiple choice vocabulary test is given at least each semester for possible adjustments as well as for assessing progress. It is only one tool used to assess a student’s reading progress and it is not entirely unusual for a score to go down along the way. Many things can impact a score. Perhaps the student didn’t sleep well the night before, or she felt rushed during the testing period.
The teacher may use the results from the STAR assessment along with reading comprehension scores to decide whether a student’s reading level or zone should be adjusted. When a child is achieving 100 percent on test after test, the teacher can move the student up to where the student would be challenged. If the student is struggling at his/her current level, the teacher may move the student down so that he/she might experience success before moving on. Once a zone is determined, a student begins choosing books to read that fit within that comfort zone.
After reading a book, the student takes a 5 to 20 question test on the computer to determine comprehension. These books can be read to her; or with her as a shared reading experience; or independently. It is suggested that younger readers read a book twice before testing. Remember that a student is being tested on how well she comprehends what was read.
AR tests must be taken at school.
We know that the incentive for reading in the AR program should be simply the joy of knowing that you read a good book and passed a test, but this is sometimes not enough for some readers. This is where the point system comes into the program. Each book in the AR program is given a point value based on its reading level, interest level, length, etc. The program keeps track of how many points the student has earned in a particular school year. The points range from .5 points for some of the beginning levels to 42 points for some of the classics. The top AR points earner in each class can earn a reading certificate at the end of the year. A second reading award is given based on the teacher's choice...it could be based on AR or it could be something like, "Most Improved Reader." Anyone who reaches 1,000 points during the school year will receive a special certificate. The great results we see at Cedar Wood are love of reading, achieved success, and improved reading skills.
Please come with your child some day before or after school to the library and watch him/her take a test. Encourage your child to read or be read to regularly at home. Ask your child about what he/she has just read. AR test taking in the library begins at 8:45 A.M. on most Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. (Closed on Tuesdays) After school testing in the library is from 3:25 until 3:50 on most Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. (Closed after school on Tuesdays and Fridays) Thank you for encouraging your child to be a reader! If you have any questions, feel free to call or email either your child’s teacher or myself. Reading is a key to success.