Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Developing our pupils into confident readers who want to read, throughout the trust

West Norfolk Academies Trust, Kings Lynn, Norfolk

Accelerated Reader (AR) drives pupils’ reading, develops reading stamina and gives teachers a good measure of a child’s level while contributing towards pupils being able to access assessments at the end of KS2. For our primary schools, it has been good to have a link with the high schools in the trust, so there’s continuity and they then have a good idea of a pupil’s reading ability before they transition into Year 7.

In the school where I used AR before, pupils came from a background of low-level literacy and there was a high proportion of English additional language (EAL) pupils. A lot were reluctant readers, so we implemented AR as a way of allowing pupils to take ownership of their reading; they enjoyed the engagement with online quizzes because it gave them immediate feedback. From that, children were able to take ownership of their reading. Our EAL children’s reading developed incredibly well, and we found that they were able to access tests once they could read, something they couldn’t do previously because of their level of understanding of the English language.


“Our last Star Reading assessment in March 2020, just before Covid-19 school closures, revealed that 83% of pupils met their expected target.”

Discovering new, more challenging texts

Star Reading assessments and vocabulary skills tests have really brought up our pupils’ vocabulary. For them to simply be able to access texts that were more challenging was a vast improvement. For example, I’ve just finished The Call Of The Wild by Jack London and people were telling me that it’s too hard for Year 6; I said to them that if we read together as a class, and discuss the book as a class, it will be possible for children to take the AR quiz using the ‘read with/to’. Some of the more able readers in the class took the quiz independently and achieved a score of 85%.

At Clenchwarton Primary School, we have pupils with reading ages above and below their respective chronological ages. Some pupils are just able to score in the low band, and they will read some of the online books within myON; what’s important is that they’re able to do a quiz just like the rest of the class.

I wanted to introduce Accelerated Reader to Clenchwarton Primary School because pupils were reading lower level non-challenging books and many pupils were reluctant readers. And so we introduced AR across all of our primary schools to drive pupils’ engagement with reading and reading development. Consequently, pupil’s reading has improved, they can read for a sustained period which stands them in good stead for future test and exams – they also have a better understanding of their individual reading ability.

We use the reports from both Accelerated Reader and Star Reading to monitor the books read, scores achieved, hours of reading engagement and total words read by each pupil. At Clenchwarton, one of our teaching assistants drives the use of AR and monitors engagement throughout the school. They monitor targets, challenges and certificates for each pupil, drastically reducing teacher workload. Pupils want to know what level they are at and strive to improve. Most pupils are now developing good reading stamina, and so when they’ve got to that 3rd text in a reading assessment or test, the language and complexity of some of the questions are not going to surprise them.

We ensure that pupils are regularly carrying out AR quizzes – and this is the same with termly Star Reading assessments. Regular quizzing and assessments are now quite normal to pupils as opposed to something quite surprising to them, which can increase anxiety. Some children come into school with a book from home or from the library and the first question they ask: “Is it on Accelerated Reader?”. Our last Star Reading assessment in March 2020, just before school closures due to Covid-19, revealed that 83% of pupils met their expected target. When people ask me what we’ve done differently, I emphasise the importance of using Accelerated Reader and giving pupils time to read.

“Teachers have access to a range of information that tells them about their pupils, thanks to the variety of reports that we can access on Accelerated Reader or Star Reading.”

Accelerated Reader and Star Reading are now both firmly part of our trust-wide routine.

Each primary school has reading time at the beginning of the day. Our English curriculum is very much a book-led approach, and most of the books we read are available to quiz on AR. When we read a book together as a class, if that text has an AR quiz available, pupils will finish the book, and then pupils will take a related quiz. We follow nine English units throughout the year and each of those driven by high-quality text. Some are fiction such as Varjak Paw by S. F. Said, and some non-fiction.

Because of the ease and convenience of immediate quizzing after pupils have read a book, we’ve noticed that they are now more engaged with their reading. Teachers have access to a range of information that tells them about their pupils, thanks to the variety of reports that we can access on Accelerated Reader or Star Reading. We can monitor pupils’ corresponding level of engagement, reading age and even their understanding of vocabulary. Pupils are now reading a wide range of books and make better choices when choosing their next book because of what is recommended based on their unique Zone of Proximal Development.

Pupils carry out a Star Reading assessment every half term. Data from Star Reading assessments informs teachers of how long each child took to complete their assessment. We remind pupils during assessments that if you don’t know something, don’t guess, just don’t answer at all because arbitrary answers can affect the data. At the end of the assessment, we can see if it took any pupils less than 13 minutes, and if so, they repeat the assessment at the end of the week. Repeating assessments encourage pupils to take their time with reading and adequately interpret the book. Reading stamina is now being practised because we can see more pupils moving their lips while they read rather than just staring at a page.

Accurate information to facilitate discussions with key stakeholders

Star Reading reports give us an accurate reading age for every pupil, which is useful for talking to parents. It allows us to explain something to parents that is clear – we can simply say your child is or is not currently working at their expected level. If you inform a parent that their 10-year-old has a reading age of eight, the parent will usually want to know how they can help and support them and what they require to become more engaged with their reading.

Pupils always want to know what level they’re at and what other books they can get to grips with quickly. Teachers generally like the way that AR and Star Reading data can tell them how many hours a week their pupils have engaged with reading. Knowing how much reading engagement each pupil has demonstrated makes delegating further intervention strategies to other staff much more efficient. I also pass Star Reading data to each school’s respective deputy headteacher, and they subsequently analyse the pupil progress data too. We like the fact that the reports include a class average: this is good to have in a meeting to contextualise the discussion and to justify further learning strategies.

Information sent by Renaissance in our customer review will be a focus for the next academic year: a designated teaching assistant will keep track of classes and quizzes and will include results in the trust’s development plan.

Overall, AR and Star Reading have made our pupils want to read, and children are becoming readers – they are engaged with books and are developing into confident readers.

Since school closures…

…pupils have a login to access Accelerated Reader quizzes from home. When I was in school last week with the children of key workers, some were doing their AR quizzes from books they had read at home. AR is being monitored and targets updated based on a pupil’s records.

For more information on how Renaissance Learning can support your Multi-Academy Trust, click here.

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