I’ve been reading a lot of posts that mention the Accelerated Reader program and finally, it’s something that my school uses so I can weigh in.
I personally have a love-hate relationship with it, more leaning towards hate, to be honest. We set a goal for every kid in the school to get 10 points per quarter. It’s not difficult, as some of the most popular books are over 10 points, but it winds up being a HUGE pain in the butt, especially for special ed or AIS teachers, like myself. We translate their completed points into a test grade, so I have had kids fail the quarter because they didn’t get a single point. Sometimes I feel like it punishes kids who don’t like reading for enjoyment and it makes them hate reading even more.
I have seen kids read just to get their AR points and not because they wanted to read, which is good in a way. But I have also seen more “cheating” than kids reading for AR points. For instance, they’d take the test on The Hunger Games because they saw the movie. I tried to convince them that the quizzes were made to trick people who had only seen the movies (false), because I failed the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows quiz (true) even though I’ve read it seven times and watched the movies multiple times. But there’s no way to prove they didn’t read the book, so what can I do?
I have a competition between classes to see who can get the closest to their quarterly AR goal. That has been the biggest motivator for them, as I have a party for the winning class and what middle schooler doesn’t want a party? I have yet to have a single class meet the goal.
I wonder if the AR program sends the right message. Read for achievement, read for competition, don’t read for enjoyment. I’ve said that I am all for kids reading in any manner, but I feel divided in this case. It’s unrealistic to expect every kid to love to read, but I want kids to love reading for reading, not because they got more points than a classmate. But then again, they’re reading. *head explodes*
I could probably write for hours about the shortcomings of STAR Reading, the AR affiliated tests, but… another topic for another day.
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