Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Improved reading across the ability spectrum at Kent Primary School

Cliftonville Primary School, Margate, Kent

We first implemented Accelerated Reader following our conversion from an LEA school to an academy. Reading was an area where we felt a fresh approach would encourage our pupils to extend their reading at appropriate levels.  The incoming Head Teacher had used Accelerated Reader at a previous school and introduced it here, initially with around 30 children.  Very quickly, within a few months, we were moving all of the junior students onto the programme.  The children liked it, and we liked it because we were able to identify and set clear, defined reading levels for each child.  Often children will choose books that are beyond or below their current ability but using Accelerated Reader we were able to give them clear guidance on a variety of reading material within their ability range. This has helped to motivate continuous independent reading throughout the school.

Using Accelerated Reader with younger children

We use Accelerated Reader with our juniors, so Years 3-6 are all on the programme.   We also tend to have around a quarter of our Year 2 children using the programme, as well as a handful of Year 1 children who are particularly strong readers.  These students feel pleased with themselves when they move onto the Accelerated Reader scheme and select their own books having reached a stage where they can see the progress they are making.  They certainly enjoy the quizzing process and are motivated by the prospect of taking a quiz once they have completed a book.

A major consideration at younger levels is ensuring that children are understanding what they are reading – generally the students in those years that we do move on to Accelerated Reader are at the point where their comprehension is strong enough to achieve well in the quizzes.  Children can also scan through books sometimes and not absorb all the important details, but the quiz results allow us to identify these instances and the quizzes themselves are a strong enough motivator that most children will read the book well to try to achieve 100% correct.

Assessing progress and attainment with Star Reading

As a school, Star presents us with a very clear set of data showing the levels our pupils have reached.  The Scaled Scores are a good indicator of this: Zone of Proximal Development often changes quite gradually, but with Scaled Scores you can see even very small amounts of progress from test to test and if children are going backwards we can very quickly identify key areas to focus on with them.

When we first began with Star we found that the initial Reading Ages being produced were very closely in line with where we thought the children were, which immediately gave us a lot of confidence that we were getting an accurate result and would be able to closely track the progress being made in terms of reading ability.

The Growth Reports are particularly useful in examining proportionally where children are; we can look at an entire year group and if we have anyone marked as red or yellow in our charts we can identify where to focus our interventions.

We usually test once per term, but don’t necessarily limit ourselves to testing in that period.  If we feel that children underperform on a given day for whatever reason, and we know from their previous results that they are more able than the latest result would suggest, we will retest them a few days later so that we know they are where they should be at.  We think it’s important to identify those occasions where children may be affected by differing circumstances. In such instances they do usually come back up in line with their expected results.

Encouraging and guiding reading across the ability spectrum

Examining the data that the programme produces has helped us to understand what children like to read, what children are reading and what types of books they are looking at.  This has the benefit of making sure that our library is stocked with books that are favourites, but also helps us identify gaps in our selections and where we need to encourage children to read other genres.

Accelerated Reader has clearly motivated children to read, and we are seeing some children reading well above their chronological age.  The programme has been a great help to staff in terms of identifying children who need a bit more help, whether that’s finding more challenging books or assisting children who struggle with the mechanics of reading.  Accelerated Reader has helped in identifying a wide range of reading material that is accessible at all levels.

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