Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

“Pupils go home with a book that they know they can read. This helps them practise the sounds they are learning.” – Ofsted

Chopwell Primary School, Gateshead, England

Chopwell Primary School have been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading since 2017.

In April 2022, the school discovered the fantastic news that they’d received a ‘Good’ Ofsted inspection report. The inspector’s report specifically observed the school’s successful reading development strategy.

“All staff have received the training they need to teach early reading well. This helps pupils to read accurately and fluently. Books are carefully matched to the sounds that pupils have been taught.”
-Ofsted

We spoke to Headteacher Vic and Assistant Headteacher Kate to learn more about the school’s Ofsted-recognised reading development strategy.

Creating readers, not just those who can read

“I think it [Accelerated Reader] is the best thing we’ve put into place. I actually don’t know what I would do without it.”

We both worked in previous schools that used Accelerated Reader (AR), and the first thing I wanted to do when I became head of Chopwell Primary School was to introduce AR.

I think it’s the best thing we’ve put into place. I actually don’t know what I would do without it. Without AR, we cannot track the children’s reading habits.

The difficulty is how we monitor these children if we don’t have Accelerated Reader in place. With AR, we know which pupils are really engaged with their book and how well they’ve understood it.

With AR, we can see each pupil’s reading progress in great depth. For example, we had one pupil who was a really bright student, but they just could not find a book to stay engaged with.

Eventually, we found a series of books that they really enjoyed, and with Accelerated Reader, they’ve totally redone their target, and they’re now ahead of it by six weeks!

We feel that Accelerated Reader can turn every child into a reader, not just someone who can read. As a parent of a child who uses AR, my child demonstrates greater depth across the board, reflected in their AR data. The use of AR has turned them into an avid reader.

Assessments for analysis and intervention

“For someone looking at a Star Reading report for the first time, they are easy to interpret.”

In terms of the academic side, Star Reading is incredibly useful, and we use that as a triangulation point with our teacher-made reading assessment data.

I think Star Reading works particularly well because it will provide accurate illustrations of each pupil’s respective reading ability and area of improvement.

For someone looking at a Star Reading report for the first time, they are easy to interpret, especially the Screening Report, which provides a graph of pupils across the scale of ability from those needing urgent intervention and those above benchmarks.

Star Reading Y6 Screening Report sample – Renaissance

We use Star Reading assessments also to provide intervention strategies for pupils. The report tells you which Focus Skills each pupil needs to work on.

The suggested Focus Skills from Star Assessments are especially useful for pupils who require urgent intervention, as they identify what skills, by domain, these pupils must master to see growth.

A new culture of reading

“I think what Accelerated Reader has done is really improve reading stamina.”

Every child has 20 minutes a day of reading targets each term, of which 10 – 15 minutes take place in school. So, all pupils are expected to take a book home every day and read outside school.

We use Accelerated Reader to track each pupil’s individual daily progress carefully and subsequently offer a reward to all pupils who meet their target at the end of term. So now, there is a culture of celebrating reading in the school.

I think what Accelerated Reader has done is really improve reading stamina. So now, we’re seeing pupils at Chopwell Primary School reading more challenging books they wouldn’t have ordinarily picked up by themselves.

Even newcomer pupils make extraordinary progress. For example, we had a pupil join us at Christmas who was appearing to really struggle with their reading progress. With Accelerated Reader, the data shows that they have made three years of reading progress in a term!

Supporting every pupil from all backgrounds

“All pupils, regardless of their own self-esteem with reading, find reading more accessible with AR.”

Most importantly, AR makes reading accessible and exciting for specific demographics of pupils where access to reading isn’t widely available for them.

All pupils, regardless of their own self-esteem with reading, find reading more accessible with AR because the programme perfectly matches books to every pupil’s unique ability and interests.

When pupils feel better about themselves, it’s because they know they’re doing well and that boost of self-confidence spreads throughout the school.

We cultivate this feeling of success by exhibiting display boards all over the school, sharing the success of pupils’ individual reading targets and progress.

When we look at particular pupils who are making incredible progress over a short period, you have to think to yourself, is this because they simply haven’t had access to a programme like Accelerated Reader anywhere else?

Without Accelerated Reader constantly encouraging pupils to expand their reading, we wouldn’t have examples like one particular reluctant reader whose mum now tells us that their child is taking books with them wherever they go now!

“Pupils go home with a book that they know they can read. This helps them practise the sounds they are learning. Pupils have access to a variety of books that reflect the diversity in Britain today.”
-Ofsted

As leaders, we have everything we need to maintain success

“With data from AR and Star Reading, we can clearly see which pupils and groups of pupils require intervention.”

From a leadership team perspective, with data from AR and Star Reading, we can clearly see which pupils and groups of pupils require intervention.

We can also advise which classes are making the most progress with reading and why so we can share best practices throughout the school and celebrate success!

As school leaders, we need to have a clear, consistent picture of what is going on across the school regarding reading progress and access to tangible evidence of improvement and intervention.

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


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