Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

“When Accelerated Reader is used well, I guarantee you will be elated with the results.”

Bo'ness Academy, Falkirk, Scotland

Starting with a poor reading culture

The reading culture in our school was poor before we implemented Accelerated Reader. We wanted to make big changes, and began to research what gets kids “hooked” on reading. When I came across Accelerated Reader, the information regarding the programme seemed too good to be true. However, when used well, I can guarantee that you will be elated with the results.

Things are so different now. Staff at Bo’ness Academy, as well as pupils, regularly demonstrate a real recognition of the importance of literacy skills across the curriculum for both life and work. This is all thanks to AR. Pupils enjoy taking Accelerated Reader quizzes to demonstrate their understanding of what they have been reading. It almost feels like reading has been turned into a game for some of our learners – which is fantastic, because it really gets them motivated! We have a huge team involved in AR across all areas of the school – from office staff to curricular staff and librarians, and this year we are hoping to include parents too.

Literacy: the responsibility of all

We have a system at Bo’ness Academy whereby poorer readers can opt to take part in reading groups. They come out of core subject areas such as PE or RMPS to help with their literacy skills. We have created a comfortable and chilled reading environment, which many of our pupils do not have at home, and the upshot is that lots of other pupils – even our strong readers – ask to join in! In our reading groups, we have up to 30 pupils in utter silence, totally engaged with their reading. It is remarkable.

We’ve involved teachers from all subject areas to really incorporate the notion that ‘literacy is the responsibility of all’. We’ve re-shelved the books in the library into genres, making book selection much simpler. And most importantly, kids can quiz at the end of almost any lesson, because all staff see the value and the results of what we are promoting – and it only takes a few moments.  Furthermore, we promote the online articles, which are catalogued by subject, as an extension task in almost all curricular areas!

Using the data from Star Reading assessments, reading ages are shared across the school on our intranet which allows staff to plan accordingly: for example, the English department can select book levels appropriate to their classes’ abilities. We have used the data to recognise pupils who we thought were doing very well: some, for example, are excellent notetakers, but the Star Reading data has demonstrated some important gaps in their knowledge and understanding. This is fundamental, and something we could never do before!

“Like a different school”

I couldn’t speak more highly of Accelerated Reader. With regards to a reading culture, Bo’ness Academy is like a different school entirely. Our pupils want to read now! They actually select reading as a task! It’s remarkable.

As well as this, we’re seeing our pupils engaging with reading to inform their learning. They have a good understanding of what is expected of them, and they know what the standards of literacy expectations nationally are. Most importantly, they can see that reading more is increasing their reading ages, and they understand that the onus is on them to ensure they keep reading!

Increased reading is 100% increasing our pupils’ reading ages, and this in turn is giving them the confidence to strive for their goals. I couldn’t say enough about how wonderful this programme has been for our staff, pupils, and even parental engagement.

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