Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Changing mindsets around reading

Countess Anne CofE Primary School, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

A gap in attainment we needed to fill

When we looked at the Year 6 SATs results, reading ability was the lowest of all the core subjects. The entry level of our Reception children is quite low, and it looked as though this was a factor in the low reading abilities throughout the school. We knew that a push in reading would not only help with our SATs results, but aid the children’s attainment in other areas of the curriculum too.

Clearly, we needed to fill the gap with a new strategy. Myself and our headteacher decided to implement Accelerated Reader after seeing how successfully it was being used in a local secondary school.

Confidence in Accelerated Reader

The training that Renaissance provide for Accelerated Reader was of a very high standard from the beginning. The ongoing professional development online training sessions have been invaluable. They give me a great deal of confidence in using the programme, benefitting not only me but the other members of staff in the school, as I lead our internal training sessions.

I’m always learning about new and different things we can do with Accelerated Reader, as well as Renaissance Star Reading™ too. Honestly, I would say that the ongoing training has been absolutely fantastic, and allowed us to use the programme to its full potential.

What Accelerated Reader has done for us

I feel that the children’s understanding of a story has improved enormously since we started using Accelerated Reader. Their mindset has changed – they aren’t just thinking about rushing through a book to finish it quickly, and then moving on to the next one. Instead, they’re aware that they should be able to understand what they’re reading so that they can pass the quiz at the end. They’re developing techniques to enable them to understand the book, like going back and re-reading sections to make sense of them. They want to pass the quiz and gain points, and this is instilling new, positive habits in them!

It’s also helped our students become more independent with their reading. They’re picking out books for themselves, not just relying on their teacher to choose books for them. We’ve seen them engaging with a wider range of literature: different writing styles, subject matters, and authors. And unlike other reading schemes, they get free choice of what they want to read next, which makes it much more exciting!

Using Star alongside Accelerated Reader

We Star-test every pupil in the school every half-term. The data helps us to identify children who need extra support early in KS2, before they approach Year 6, so that we can tackle any issues before they get too big. Our teachers are all confident in consulting the data and they can use it alongside their own, professional judgement to fine-tune their classroom practice and objectives to improve attainment – this means we’re using Star data as prevention as well as cure!

But we can use Star to see the positive things too: it shows us where children are progressing even if the change isn’t big enough to be reflected by a change in their reading age, and this is invaluable.

We haven’t had an Ofsted inspection since we implemented Accelerated Reader and Star Reading, but we’re due one imminently, and we’re already using the reports to show attainment, progression and results to School Governors and senior members of staff.

A great investment

Now, every half-term we have a “Big Read” where children spend time reading to each other. We invite parents to come and join in too. It’s so lovely to see how much the children enjoy sharing their books and stories with one another.

Accelerated Reader has definitely caused a culture change throughout the school that our children will take with them after they leave at the end of Year 6. I truly feel that it’s one of the best things that we’ve invested in.

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