Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Invaluable Data for Accurate Assessment at Castleford Academy, Wakefield

Castleford Academy, Wakefield, England

In 2009, Castleford Academy introduced Accelerated Reader (AR) and Star Reading to their secondary school. Thirteen years later, both reading support programmes are still going strong in the school. Furthermore, in March 2022, we discovered that Castleford Academy had completed over 22,406 Accelerated Reader quizzes over the last eighteen months – the most out of all AR user schools in Wakefield!

Following this extraordinary achievement, we got in touch with Literacy Coordinator, Alison, to determine why Accelerated Reader and Star Reading are the perfect matches for supporting the students and staff at Castleford Academy.

Alison explains:

A Whole-School Intervention Resource

“Now, with the abundance of reading activity and motivators throughout the school, we’re regularly seeing students exceed their reading targets, let alone meeting them!”

We needed a reading assessment programme to keep students engaged with reading correctly. But, more importantly, we needed it to give us an ethical solution to conducting a mass assessment on a large scale to analyse reading ability across the school.

To this day, we still rely on AR and Star Reading as a whole-school intervention resource to push students through the levels from the bottom of their reading assessment to the top of their max level.

Given the local socio-economic picture around our school, we find that we have a lot of reluctant readers, especially boys. But, Accelerated Reader allows them to choose books they’re interested in and know is pitched at their ability level of reading. The programme also helps us ensure our library is stocked with books that students want to read.

We had a clear mission thirteen years ago to become a reading school. We made it clear to everyone that there would be expectations for all students to meet a certain amount of book reading targets. Accelerated Reader was integral to our subsequent success in establishing ourselves as a fully-fledged reading school.

Before we knew it, we had AR book labels on all of our library stock. We were encouraging students to complete their daily AR quizzes. We were holding assemblies to celebrate AR quiz success by handing out certificates. According to their AR profile, we now have a word-millionaire club to celebrate students every time they read over one million words!

Now, with the abundance of reading activity and motivators throughout the school, we’re regularly seeing students exceed their reading targets, let alone meeting them!

Star Reading 

“The Focus Skills from Star Reading tie into our teaching, learning and overall quality of education. Therefore, Star Reading is more than just a progress tracking resource; it’s also an invaluable intervention resource.”

We’ve already carried out an analysis of some of the exam questions that we can expect from the 2022 GCSEs, and we’ve discovered that some of the exam questions have a reading age of eighteen!

Therefore, Star Reading isn’t just a main reading intervention programme; it’s much more crucial. It allows us to prepare students for cross-curricular success who arrive at the school with a reading age below eleven.

With Star Reading assessments, we can categorise our students by who needs one-to-one intervention and those in need of specific or urgent intervention.

At any one time, at least 190 students across the school will be on some active intervention scheme thanks to the data and insight from Star Reading assessments. These interventions include a peer-buddy system where younger students are matched with older students to read together and share book interests.

Therefore, we know the importance of proficient reading, providing the foundation to scaffold learning. The Focus Skills from Star Reading tie into our teaching, learning and overall quality of education. Therefore, Star Reading is more than just a progress tracking resource; it’s also an invaluable intervention resource.

According to the National Curriculum, the Focus Skills from Star Assessments provide age-related expectations for mastery. In addition, focus Skills supports intervention sessions with other staff working closely with students who require more support or specific demographics, such as our EAL and SEND students.

We fundamentally want to see from our Star Reading data how pupils have progressed since joining the school and the subsequent impact that Accelerated Reader has had on their respective progress. The data from Star Reading allows us to split students into different groups throughout their academic careers based on their interventional needs.

We refer to the Star Reading Growth and Rank reports most frequently, indicating which pupils need urgent and moderate intervention. Additionally, we can see those students who are most comfortable and proficient with reading and engage them with their peers who might be less confident or enthusiastic.

The variety of reports from Star Reading is so comprehensive there’s a report to share with every key stakeholder. For example, I can share a specific Parent Report with parents that outlines their child’s respective reading age compared to their chronological age. It also provides helpful tips and suggestions to boost reading engagement and development.

Renaissance Star Assessments

Part of The Furniture 

“It is invaluable to have accurate data to assess how these unique demographics are progressing with reading and tangible strategies for intervention to support them.”

Our students are so used to Accelerated Reader because it’s become integrated into their day-to-day school lives. Students are comfortable with AR from day one because it’s so user friendly, but because of the frequency they use AR, it quickly becomes part of their general school routine.

Given the varying demographics in the local area, the daily reading routine is powerful for all of our students, particularly boys and pupil premium students.

It is invaluable to have accurate data to assess how these unique demographics are progressing with reading and tangible strategies for intervention to support them.

Having a positively reinforced daily routine is fundamentally what our most complex demographics need. For example, students know they can come into school every day, pick up a book, read it, quiz on it and celebrate their success; enthusing them to pick up the next book and read is just what they need.

Renaissance Accelerated Reader

To find out how Accelerated Reader and Star Reading can support your school’s reading development strategy, click here.


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