Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

An Ode to Our Librarian, at Graham School

Graham School, North Yorkshire, England

Graham School has been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading for almost a decade to provide students with more access to reading and develop a culture of reading cfor pleasure.

After discovering that the school had completed the most Accelerated Reader quizzes in North Yorkshire – almost 14,000 in eighteen months – we spoke to Director of Communications Fiona Norton and LRC Manager Dawn Rawlings. They outline the significant role AR and Star Reading play in supporting the school’s reading development strategy.

They explain:

Read, Quiz, Repeat

“These students can now read books and quiz independently, and most of them do get through four or more books a term.”

Each child in year seven and eight has a reading lesson once a week. During that reading lesson, they are encouraged to read and complete the corresponding Accelerated Reader book quiz and read and quiz, so at the moment, we are trying to get them to read short books if they are reluctant readers.

If there are more sophisticated readers, we know they already read for pleasure; therefore, they know what they’re doing, know what they like, and read at their own pace.

For our low ability readers in year seven, we read short books with them, they quiz, and they read another one, and so on. We’ve seen particular success from this strategy. These students can now read books and quiz independently, and most of them do get through four or more books a term.

At Graham School, we’re trying to build students’ confidence, particularly those who transition into the school from key stage 2 with a reading age of about six.

An Ode to Our Librarian

“One of the reasons our quizzes are so high is because we set skill development initiatives like the nonfiction challenge.”

We’re lucky to have somebody as proactive as Dawn, the LRC Manager, constantly building different ways of utilising Accelerated Reader, including an active focus on building reading skills.

Dawn will sit down with groups of students and work on skills such as skimming and scanning, so one of the reasons our quizzes are so high is because we set skill development initiatives like the non-fiction challenge.

The non-fiction challenges require students to scan a nonfiction text to find the information and answers for the corresponding Accelerated Reader book quiz.

This activity gives students information-seeking and acquisition skills ahead of a crucial period of form exams as they transition into key stage 4.

Ensuring Reading Engagement 

“I like Accelerated Reader because after students complete their book quiz, the data affirms my expectations.”

In our quiz results by the end of the year, you can see that I’ve got top set students sitting there doing 10 in a row, you know, back to back and to get a hundred per cent.

As the LRC Manager, I like Accelerated Reader because, with years of experience, I know when a child uses avoidance tactics to get away from reading. For example, when a child is pretending to read, I know they’ve got a big book and look like they’re reading, but that is not doing anything.

Similarly, I also know when a student struggles with reading, but they’re telling me they don’t need help. Therefore, I like Accelerated Reader because after students complete their book quiz, the data affirms my expectations.

Once I have this data from Accelerated Reader, it allows me to identify those students who need more help or aren’t engaging with reading and put a support plan in place.

Accurate Data, Accurate Evidence

“We know the data from Accelerated Reader and Star Reading is very accurate, allowing staff to offer appropriate intervention strategies for students.”

Our Star Reading data is now picking up those students that have been on the system for two years and have completed at least six different Star Reading assessments. In this data set, we can see that students still have reading ages almost two years below their respective chronological ages.

Where we find an unimproved reading age over multiple assessments, we immediately support those students using extra assessment or one to one support with reading. We emphasise rewards to incentivise pupils in need of the most help to practice their reading and improve their reading age.

We’ll also reward students for extraordinary results or those who have worked hardest and tried their best. It’s surprising what they will do and go and do for a lollipop!

The success we’ve seen at Graham School over the last few years is a combination of an extraordinary librarian and the abundance of cultural capital that our school and, in particular, our library offers students something they often don’t have at home.

We use Accelerated Reader quizzes and Star Reading assessments when students transition into key stage 4 ahead of their GCSE exams but struggle with reading.

We know the evidence from Accelerated Reader is accurate because we do the general national reading and spelling tests as well. Subsequently, we can see that the evidence from Star Reading corroborates the evidence from these standardised tests.

Therefore, we know the data from Accelerated Reader and Star Reading is very accurate, allowing staff to offer appropriate intervention strategies for students who need additional support.

The data from Star Reading confirm which students we need to be targeting additional intervention towards. As LRC Manager, I will support those students who Star Reading identifies as ‘on watch’ to ensure they don’t slip below benchmark and get back on track.

Regarding students that Star Reading identifies as ‘in need of urgent intervention, we can assign our specialist staff, such as our SENDCO, to offer bespoke intervention strategies for these students ensuring they receive consistent one to one support with reading.

Renaissance Accelerated Reader

AR as we Advance

As we advance, Accelerated Reader will continue to have an impact as we continue to use the programme to support a growing demographic of EAL students joining our school. Knowing we have Star Reading to accurately measure their reading development and using Accelerated Reader to nurture a love of reading for all students in the direction we’ll keep steering towards.

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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