Trekking through the wilds of library instruction, management, and fun!

Aug 29, 2013

Life After Accelerated Reader

If you'd told me three days ago that I'd soon be looking for A.R. (Accelerated Reader) alternatives, I never would have believed you. I was a real fan of A.R. - always had been. Even in library school when I was told that it worked in opposition to its intended goal. Even when my peers spoke ill of it at our district librarians' meetings. 

Recently, Renaissance Learning chose to add a mass of new features that reflect current educational trends (RTI, Common Core), which is a good thing, I guess. Unfortunately, they passed the cost of them on to the schools. That's one of the reasons my school decided that this is a great time to try something new, and I have to agree.

Now, pardon me if I boast, but we really "did it right" when it came to A.R. I set individual goals for each child, and we held the standard of 85 minimum % correct. I expanded their reading range as they progressed toward their goal. It was a very important part of our reading incentive program. My colleagues and I are discombobulated by this loss. We find ourselves asking questions like...
  • How will we determine students' reading ranges without STAR data?
  • How will we set goals without points?
  • How will we determine progress without those fancy reports?
And the BIGGEST question that haunts me is...How do I motivate these kids to read now that I no longer have my carrot on a stick? Yes, I know...these were some of the biggest reasons for not using A.R. Those reasons I'd heard during library school and librarians' meetings. 

So it would appear that A.R. is wonderful when you have it, but if you ever have to let it go, the upset is widespread, affecting teachers and students. Teachers will have to find a way to make sure students engage in recreational reading. Students will need to be trained not only in the details of a new program but also, more importantly, in reading for the joy of reading. This begs the question - Wasn't that what we really wanted all along?

I'm thinking I may never be a fan again...

Have you had a similar experience? I'd love to read how you handled it. Please leave a comment or contact me through my comment form.

I'm off now to start a new Pinterest board about A.R. Alternatives :) I'm sure this topic will be a huge theme on this blog for the rest of the school year! Like me on Facebook or follow me on Bloglovin to see how it goes!

Yours Happily Ever After,

11 comments :

  1. Hi there,
    I am a teacher at a school without that proverbial carrot to get kids to read... Yet! With a new principal, he is motivated to get into a program. We are contemplating AR and SRI. D you have any experience with SRI? Were you part of decision making process between these programs? I would love to know! Thanks for the blog post:)

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  2. Our school actually ended up keeping AR due to high demand! I've no experience with SRI so I can't speak to that. I really, really like AR, l just don't like the cost. It's great if you can keep it. But I do wonder what it would have been like if we'd lost it. Soon I'll write a post about how my school does AR and why my teachers like it. Let me know what you all decide. I'd love to hear!

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  3. There is an alternative to AR and it is very inexpensive. Because from a technology point of view, quizzing is not rocket science. ReadnQuiz (www.ReadnQuiz.com) is basic reading accountability, modeled on AR, because it is actually a good program, if you can afford it. Full disclosure: I own the company.

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    1. Hello, our admin is interested in your program. We do have some questions though. For example do you have a list of books from your page? Please email me at amora227@gmail.com

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    2. ReadnQuiz is a low-cost alternative so we don't have as many quizzes as Accelerated Reader(TM), but ReadnQuiz usually has more questions for a book and the quizzes have different questions each time. There are currently 34,000 quizzes and I would be happy to send the current list to anyone who wants it. We do add quizzes every day. Just email us at info@intradata.com. ReadnQuiz.com.

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  4. We are losing AR next year due to the cost. I need ideas to keep my students reading. I had eight of my students earn over 100 points this year. (They were expected to earn 15 points per quarter.) One student earned over 200 points and another over 750! I'm so proud of these kids. Anyone with good ideas...I would appreciate them.

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  5. We are losing AR next year due to the cost. I need ideas to keep my students reading. I had eight of my students earn over 100 points this year. (They were expected to earn 15 points per quarter.) One student earned over 200 points and another over 750! I'm so proud of these kids. Anyone with good ideas...I would appreciate them.

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    1. Read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. :)

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  6. Here's the board I started to collect ideas for alternatives to A.R. https://www.pinterest.com/librarysafari/programs-ar-alternatives/

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  7. Thank you for your Pinterest Board! I followed it and hope to add to mine as well.

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  8. I'm interested to know....how's it going this year? What are you using? Just found out today that we are not using AR next year. I was a presenter for the company, so like you, I was using it correctly and saw it as a fun motivator. I've looked at ReadnQuiz, but not sure admin will go for it.

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