It was on a Star-ry Night…

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

The Christmas carol concert season is in full swing which has inspired me to make a token gesture at a parody:

It was on a Star-ry night
When assessment shone so bright
It was easy screening
Screening calm and still…
Then in a click or two
We delved in deeper too
All the reports are there
Everything we could ever need…

Joking aside, the carol concerts and Nativity plays are a sure sign that the end of term and the Christmas break is on the horizon (hip, hip, hurray)… but before we head off to enjoy a well earned rest, I wanted to take a moment and look back on what’s been an incredible year.

I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time visiting schools over the past 12 months and one of the most rewarding parts of this has been to see the impact which accurate and objective whole-school assessment has had – both in terms of tracking pupil progress and helping to inform instruction.

This really came to light when I headed over to Derry in Northern Ireland. While Accelerated Reader has been a core part of teaching over there for so long, the schools I met with were excited to learn more about using Star for wider reporting and insight on things like pupil progress and growth.

Another personal highlight for me is the work of Gary Alexander, who has correlated the results from Star tests with SATs results – which means going into next year, he’ll now be able to use Star reporting as a SATs predictor, but more importantly, identify how individual children need supporting to achieve their potential. You can learn more about how Gary approached this here.

This month also marks the end of our 30 year celebrations… Borne out of one mother’s passion for getting her son to read, Accelerated Reader has now been with us for three whole decades, and evolved over this time to keep pace with the changing needs of schools and continually expanded the number of quizzes available. I was fortunate to meet Judi Paul and her son Alex when they visited earlier this year, and it feels such a privilege to be part of the continuing journey. From the humble beginnings of Accelerated Reader on a floppy disk, we’ve come so far…and now with Star Assessments we’re seeing schools up and down the country benefit from the valuable, valid and reliable data and insight that this powerful programme can provide.

Finally, as Christmas is a time for giving, our Content team has been busy preparing the new Christmas themed Accelerated Reader quizzes… we hope you enjoy them in the final run up to the festive break… and look forward to what 2018 has in store!

Sending you all my very best wishes… if you’d like to follow me over the festive season (and beyond) you can find me @MargaretCAllen

Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.

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