Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Keeping students motivated to read from home with Accelerated Reader!

Casterton College, Rutland
After discovering some awe-inspiring reading statistics throughout remote-learning periods, we spoke to Debbie Scott, Library and Communications Co-ordinator at Casterton College, Rutland. Debbie explains how she has successfully maintained high reading levels for all pupils whilst reading at home with Accelerated Reader (AR).

Debbie writes

“I am certain that without the AR targets, some students wouldn’t pick up a book at all during lockdown.”

To help with motivation, our students are regularly contacted by their AR teacher to offer praise and encouragement for their efforts toward achieving their targets. In addition to monitoring the students in my AR groups, I also oversee all AR students and contact anyone that I think needs additional support or advice based on their current quizzing data. It is a team effort with students, myself, AR teachers, English teachers and parents all playing a role in the success of our students within AR.

AR helped change the reading culture at Casterton, and I am certain that without the AR targets, some students wouldn’t pick up a book at all during lockdown. The targets help motivate our students; they let students know their reading time, effort, and progress are still being monitored each week by a member of staff. Students email me every day for advice on what to read next, how to earn their points, or excited to tell me that they have completed their Points target.

I am currently also sending lots of book recommendations from our digital library collection (and include AR details). Some go to all students, some are personalised for students who contact me, and some are for those that are less engaged to try to help them find a book I think they will enjoy. I feel book selection is the most important factor; they have to want to pick up the book – success will then usually follow.

I like to keep an eye out for other free resources online that our students may want to read or listen to and quiz on. There are so many wonderful authors that have offered their books for free during the lockdowns. Some are eBooks, and some are audiobooks or even videos of the books being read aloud. Our students know they can listen to a book and still take the quiz, they just select that the book was ‘read to me’ instead of selecting ‘read by myself’ when they take the quiz. As soon as I find any new online books, I email them to everyone I know: students, staff, friends and family. 

To help improve engagement, any student that earned zero points in the previous term will be placed in my AR Support group. The aim is to help those students achieve success by the end of the current term. When we are in college, all students in the AR Support group would normally meet with me each week, so I can monitor their engagement and progress more closely and offer one to one advice and encouragement. Obviously, this support is via email in the current circumstances but is still happening. Some students just need guidance with the level or length of a book to ensure it is within their ability. When students have worked hard to finish their book, we want them to be successful when they take the quiz.

The book needs to be challenging enough to promote progress, without being so challenging that the student can’t understand and enjoy the book. I also contact parents to enlist additional support at home; some students just need help remembering to quiz when they finish a book, others need help setting out a time and place to sit down with their book. Occasionally I may suggest using an Xbox/Playstation as a motivational tool though! Our parents are very supportive of the AR programme and know our whole approach to AR is steeped in positivity, encouragement and rewards. It really is a pleasure to work alongside them and celebrate their child’s success together, even more so when it is a disengaged youngster who transforms into an avid reader!

Debbie provides an example email that she sends to students to remind them of their current progress with reading and AR quizzing whilst also reminding them of their impressive reading statistics to keep students motivated.

Dear Students,

I hope you and your family are safe and well. 

I wanted to let you know that I set your Term 3 AR points target last week. I have kept them lower than they would normally be, due to the current situation, but I also want you to remain motivated towards achieving your targets, especially as they are lower. It would be great if I could give lots of rewards to students at the end of this term. 

To check what your Term 3 target is, log into AR Quizzes. Click the orange Accelerated Reader icon (as though you were about to take a quiz). Click the ‘Progress’ tab in the top right corner of the page. Your points target will be displayed there.

I am in the process of reviewing your Term 2 targets and I will help you work out your Term 2 progress ladder position next week. Rewards will be added to Sims (Platinum and Gold Lorics).

Some of you may still have library books to read, some of you may plan to read your own books or new books you received for Christmas. Please continue to read each day and quiz within two days of finishing your books. 

The key thing to remember is that you need to check the titles of the digital books on www.arbookfind.co.uk just like you would with any book from home. 

At the end of 2019 our students had read over quarter of a billion words which was amazing! Because we are always pushing to do better year on year, we set a target to read 300 million words in our 2019/20 academic year. Unfortunately last year saw schools close in March but Casterton readers didn’t let that stop them and our students actually exceeded this target, in spite of facing all sorts of difficult circumstances, reading a staggering 359,088,222 words! I am so proud of you. 

I know you can do this again because you are such amazing, motivated students who recognise the importance of reading each day and the positive impact it has on your education. 

Well done to those students who have already completed books and quizzes so early in the term.

I will keep monitoring your progress towards your targets and I am here every day to offer support and advice. Please email me if you need help or if you have any issues accessing AR. 

Happy reading!

Mrs Scott 

The numbers don’t lie!

Product usage stats:

  • 12,207 Accelerated Reader quizzes carried out over the last twelve monthsan increase of 63.2%*
  • 1,103 Star Reading assessments carried out over the last twelve monthsan increase of 15.43%*
  • Average ZPD level over the last twelve months – an average increase of 9.68%*
  • Average Accelerated Reader Quiz Percentage Correct of 88% over the last twelve months.*
  • Average Accelerated Reader Reading Level over the last twelve months – an average increase of 4.16%*
  • Average Star Reading Scaled Score over the last twelve months – an average increase of 3.36%*
  • Average time per Star Reading test over the last twelve months is 23 Minutes 02 Seconds*

*2020 product usage stats will be distorted due to school closures in March 2020 resulting in infrequent quizzing/testing

External stats (DfE):

  • Casterton College Rutland achieved a ‘Well Above Average’ Progress 8 Score in 2019, based on its unique confidence intervals. This means the school performed the same or better as the top 14% of other secondary schools with the same confidence intervals.
  • Casterton College Rutland saw an increase in Progress 8 Score from 2018 – 2019 an increase of over + 51.92% forecasting a continued increase of + 43.04% by 2021*
  • Casterton College Rutland saw an increase in Progress 8 Score for disadvantaged pupils from 2018 – 2019 an increase of over + 353.85% forecasting a continued increase of + 236.36% by 2021*
  • Casterton College Rutland performs better than 100% of other secondary schools in Rutland’s local authority based on Progress 8 Score.
  • Casterton College Rutland performs better than 96% of other secondary schools in England with similar pupil population figures and whose pupils entered KS3 with similar prior attainment.

*All forecasts are sourced from DfE data and calculated before school closures in March 2020

Ofsted – 2016 – Good (one year after subscription with AR/SR began)

“The school promotes reading very well for all pupils. There is a strong focus for improving all pupils’ literacy skills lower down the school. Staff value the impact this is having on the quality of pupils’ learning.”

To find out how you can keep your students motivated to read from home, click here.


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