Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Helping to provide and nurture a lifelong core skill

Northampton International Academy, Northampton

Embedding Accelerated Reader

I have used Accelerated Reader in previous schools, and thought it would be the perfect programme to use at Northampton International Academy to determine where our students’ current reading levels are, and accelerate their literacy growth; particularly among our English as an Additional Language (EAL) students and reluctant readers.  Children understand the importance of Accelerated Reader quizzes and Star Reading tests and, in fact, we encourage many pupils to proactively try to increase their reading age. We’re planning to launch our own Fantasy Form League for pupils, based on their termly reading progress, and will invite them to check their league position each week. This friendly competitiveness, we hope, will add to their desire to read even more complex and diverse literature.

Our EAL students have one library lesson a week to focus and hone their literacy skills. Several of them have actually gone on to become reading & AR champions! The Ofsted inspector noted within our report some of our EAL pupils have made better progress than their peers, particularly from their starting points, which is so important in giving them the best possible chance to develop as proficient readers. I believe this is directly linked to the fact that they can visually see the progress they’re making from their very first Star Reading test and they can monitor their progress on a daily basis once they have completed a reading quiz.

“The Ofsted inspector noted within our report some of our EAL pupils have made better progress than their peers!”

DEAR culture

Since implementing Accelerated Reader within our school, we practice a “Drop Everything And Read” (DEAR) culture; our Literacy Co-ordinator Elontra Hall has overseen this strategy. We firmly believe it is necessary to take the time to sit and read quietly each day as it is essential to nurture each student’s love of reading, but it also exposes them to an exam-like environment where they will need to focus, in silence, and concentrate on what the text is saying – which can only be a good thing!

The diagnostic reports provided by Accelerated Reader outline all pupils’ current reading levels and the progress they are making throughout the academic year. The report is used for each class within the school and for all English teachers to refer to and use to complement their teaching and planning. Students in Years 7 and 8 will also have one Accelerated Reader lesson per fortnight, and at the start of these lessons, their teacher will look at the diagnostic report to provide wider context around each student being able to successfully reach their termly target.

“The noticeable change in the way pupils browse the library stock is fantastic.”

Changes in the library

We wanted to ensure the library is as accessible as possible to staff and students so I was adamant about integrating our library system completely with AR.  When pupils are searching for books, they have all of the necessary information at hand; book level and points value and reading within their ZPD. Once they’ve read the book and are ready to take a quiz they are able to access the relevant AR webpage via the library management system in a few clicks.  So simple yet effective!

The noticeable change in the way pupils browse the library stock is fantastic. Students understand the importance of reading within their ZPD and are able to browse and consider a diverse selection of books, both fiction & non-fiction, and take the time to choose wisely, instead of selecting the first book they see.  They are also more than happy to discuss the books they have read and enjoyed with their peers and staff alike. With easy-to-read AR book labels, choice is simpler and students are more than capable of locating the books they would like to read. Pupils are encouraged to read in pairs or groups with the aim of fostering a social approach to reading, which leads to lots of discussion and debate about their books!

Crucial data

The data that we collect from students’ Star Reading assessments is crucial. We import each pupil’s reading age into our internal staff database, allowing every teacher to view this at a glance.

We also rely heavily on the Star Reading screening report. It’s a baseline report which simply outlines everyone’s level of ability, and it gives the teacher a contextualised understanding of the scale of ability within their class. The report also illustrates exactly where appropriate intervention needs to be offered, so each pupil will receive the best possible guidance, tailored specifically to meet their unique needs and requirements.“Accelerated Reader has been crucial in cultivating a positive reading and learning culture throughout the school.”

The importance of strong literacy skills

The overall impact of Accelerated Reader within Northampton International Academy has been really positive. The valid testing Star Reading gives us is so important for not only monitoring pupils’ growth and development, but for other significant reasons, including exposing pupils to a conducive and calm testing environment, and feeling confident and relaxed whilst completing a Star test. Now, they can experience first-hand how to behave during an important assessment, which is an fundamental part of the examinations process – very good practice!

Accelerated Reader has been crucial in cultivating a positive reading and learning culture throughout the school: particularly with boys where we’ve seen the greatest change in attitude towards learning. All staff and the Senior Leadership Team here recognise the importance of strong literacy skills in supporting pupils’ proficiency across the whole curriculum. Accelerated Reader and Star Reading provide and nurture a lifelong core skill that pupils can take with them throughout the entirety of their future careers.

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