Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

‘A great buzz around books’ at Northern Ireland primary school

Millquarter Primary School, Toombridge, County Antrim

Before Accelerated Reader

We began using Accelerated Reader in 2012. After analysing our last four years of Key Stage 2 data, we found our literacy standards below the Northern Ireland average compared with schools in the same free school meals band. We agreed upon and implemented a focussed action plan of appropriate strategies to raise our standards, with Accelerated Reader as one of these initiatives. I was able to visit another local school that was having success with Accelerated Reader to look at examples of good working practice which helped us to adapt our use of Accelerated Reader to our own circumstances.

Introducing Accelerated Reader

All staff, including assistants, took part in training sessions via the internet and telephone on Star Reading assessments, launching Accelerated Reader, Monitoring and Intervention and Setting Targets. I was able to go to a school in the local area that was having success with Accelerated Reader to look at examples of good working practice. All of the support that we had, set up by Renaissance, helped us tremendously in grounding ourselves and finding what direction we wanted to go with Accelerated Reader. Parents were keen to use Renaissance Home Connect, where they can receive an email to let them know how their child has performed in a quiz. The direct home-school link from Accelerated Reader is a great way of communicating a child’s progress, from which they can go on to discuss books they have read further.

The wide range of reports available have been extremely informative in helping us to effectively monitor pupil progress. We use the Renaissance Star Reading assessment to find students’ baseline reading levels and direct them towards appropriate reading material. This has allowed class teachers to provide instant feedback on progress and direct students towards expected growth. For those children who are highlighted in Accelerated Reader reporting as needing intervention, we investigate their results immediately and put in place appropriate strategies to make sure they are achieving that expected growth.

We use a variety of motivators in conjunction with Accelerated Reader to encourage students’ interest in reading. For instance, there is a millionaires club for children who read over a million words. These children make their own poster for our display and receive a certificate and a prize at our weekly assemblies. During world book week we run a ‘quizathon’ competition between classes with prizes at the end such as cinema tickets. In this regard the children are very keen and competitive which has really helped to increase enjoyment and participation in the school.

The impact of Accelerated Reader

Three years after implementing Accelerated Reader in our school our achievements have been rated as ‘very good’ by the inspectorate, who noted that:

By year 7 the children’s acquisition of their spoken and written English is of a very good standard. The children are articulate and communicate their ideas and opinions with increasing independence and extended vocabulary. They read with fluency and understanding

Accelerated Reader’s implementation at Millquarter has been hugely successful. Our literacy standards are now above the national average with 92.4% of our children achieving in line with or above their expected ability. Keeping parents updated with information sessions on Accelerated Reader and Renaissance Home Connect has also helped us to display effective home-school communication to the inspectorate, and show that parents are encouraged at every opportunity to support their child’s learning.

There has also been a noticeable improvement in boys’ reading both in terms of their attitudes towards it and the results they achieve. Since implementing Accelerated Reader, our Key Stage 2 boys have become much more involved in their reading.

All parents have also been made aware that local libraries stock Accelerated Reader books, and children now make extended use of this service which has also led to increased use of the mobile library van that visits the school every fortnight. There has been a great buzz about books both in and out of school, and it has been amazing to hear from parents informally and through parental questionnaires about the impact Accelerated Reader has had on their children’s approach to reading. The impact has been so positive that the PTA has funded Accelerated Reader for another three years, and we hope to continue using the programme for many years to come!

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