Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

“More creativity and improved vocabulary” as students read with AR

Axe Valley Community College, Devon

As the School Librarian, I welcomed the challenge of AR four years ago and have a great sense of pride in watching how the students have developed through their ability to read well and enjoy books – and consequently acquired essential new skills.

The timing of us choosing to implement AR at Axe Valley coincided with the whole school upgrade for internet access. I was able to reallocate some of the budget that would have been spent on non-fiction titles to fiction – thereby reaffirming the Library as a valuable resource centre within the school for AR, reading and Internet research. The turnover of our fiction stock since we encompassed AR has far exceeded our expectations and the reading level of the books creeps up each year.

Since the introduction of AR, reading has become an integral part of our curriculum – instilling the reading habit amongst many of our previously reluctant readers, both at home and at school. The ability to accurately identify reading levels and monitor progress with STAR Reading assessments provides us with invaluable data at the touch of a button. From these regular tests and combined with quiz data, all staff have been able to monitor student development and fluctuations instantly.

These results often tell us about more than just ability, the reports can also provide insight into individual students who are experiencing other pressures or issues at school or in the home, which can then be monitored accordingly.

The facility to monitor the progress groups are making has enabled us to set up inter-tutor competitions, which has really motivated everyone and expanded the opportunities for students to read into tutor time. Each half term the tutor group with the highest score gains a non-uniform day – an inexpensive but very satisfactory prize!

All of the students thrive on the competitiveness of Accelerated Reader, especially the lower ability readers who, for the first time, receive recognition alongside more able students and gain rewards.

Furthermore, we have seen the written word enhanced by the introduction of AR – the increase in Year 7, 8 & 9s reading ability has led to more creativity and improved vocabulary, especially for the boys!

For me personally, the biggest buzz is listening to the students recommending and talking about books to one another – AR has really opened up a new horizon for many of them. In fact, AR so impressed me that I approached my Headteacher with the idea of encompassing our small feeder schools within the Axe Valley Learning Community. This made such sense to me and I can now look forward to seeing confident and independent readers coming into our school in September as the idea was taken up.

I am currently timetabled to go out to the schools in order to help them in their early stages of setting up – I remember only too well how daunting it all seemed in the beginning, thank goodness Renaissance Learning has such patient customer service staff!

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