Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Realising a reading vision in under a year

East Ravendale CE Primary School, Grimsby, South Humberside

Last year, our KS2 SATs results were lower than we would expect; as a result, I spoke with colleagues in the area to find out their reading approaches. I came across Accelerated Reader, implemented it in Years 2-6, and found that it perfectly fit my vision of what reading should be.

We found the implementation very straightforward. The tech side of things, and getting children started, all happens very easily. The only significant task was the labelling of books, which is a frontloaded large task. Once it’s done it’s done however, and we only need to make updates for new books we bring in.

We dedicate about half an hour each day to reading. There are 6 laptops in each classroom. When a child finishes a book they simply log on to a laptop, take a quiz, and choose their next book from the book corner in the classroom. Initially children were finishing books at the same time, creating competition for laptops; that changes as more books are read however. If you walk into a classroom now you’d usually see around three children on laptops, with the rest sat reading quietly, with one sat with the teacher who’s reading with them.

Fostering enjoyment of independent reading

Accelerated Reader has enabled us to encourage independent reading while still monitoring children’s habits and progress. Books aren’t prescribed by adults; children make their own selections, and have the opportunity to browse and pursue their own interests. We still then have the rigour of regular testing to ensure that children are making progress, and we can plan interventions if they aren’t. It also helps us track whether children are actually reading, and reading consistently.

The programme has really turned children on to books. Before this, the children would read and you could see they were just going through the motions to comply with what the teacher said. The enjoyment wasn’t really there. The fact that they now take a quiz at the end of the book does seem to remind them that they enjoy reading. For them it gives reading a purpose; initially, the purpose was to take a quiz, which they enjoy as it’s an opportunity to get things right, and there’s a light competitive element. As time as gone on the purpose has become the enjoyment of reading itself, with the opportunity to quiz being a bonus.

Using data to continuously understand reading

We track data points throughout the year, but traditionally reading has been one of the harder areas for teachers to assess. Children would sit one-off tests, but teacher assessment was more challenging. There is now a lot more for teachers to base their understanding on, because instead of one-off tests they have an accumulation of information throughout the year. They can see what sorts of books children are reading, and data from Accelerated Reader quizzes adds to what they know about the child anyway. As a result we are now more accurate in our assessment of reading.

We also make use of Renaissance Star Reading, alongside Accelerated Reader, which is a short, computer-adaptive reading test which informs us of reading ages, Zones of Proximal Development, and other data. We’ve administered it four times this year with the majority of students, and found that it provides a great deal of information about the children. It’s proven particularly useful when tracking SEN children, as the information is very accessible and we can compare them with their peers very easily. This makes it very easy to show progress; we also find that the results correlate with our teacher assessments and KS2 SATs results.

Making progress school-wide

We’ve received some comments from parents who have noticed their children reading far more, never setting books down. I think that’s a direct result of Accelerated Reader, and it’s another example of how much they enjoy reading now. Our children are now focused on reading, rather than pretending to read, and we’ve embedded whole class reading time. As a school, our most recent progress score was 4.5; a massive improvement on our progress the year before, which was around the national average, 0. This demonstrates just how impactful Accelerated Reader has been on our school.

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