Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Measuring progress: 14 months of reading progress in 10 months!

The Raglan Schools, Enfield

children running - path to assessmentOur path to using Star Reading

When I came to the school about six years ago, we didn’t have a structure in place regarding reading assessment. At the time, children’s progress was assessed solely by teachers, SATs test papers, or papers created to replicate the SATs. Whilst most of the junior children were quite independent in their reading, we didn’t have a system robust enough to track what they were reading, and more importantly, whether they were reading books that were challenging for them. Having used Accelerated Reader in my previous school quite successfully, I decided to implement it here.

Combining Accelerated Reader with Star Reading gave us a complete reading assessment that we could use, which is definitely key. Star Reading gives us the Standardised Reading Age and Raw Score that we keep an accurate track of. We do the Star tests quite regularly: four times a year, on entry and at the end of each term. This helps us keep track of how children are progressing each term and how we can move them forward and give them support when necessary. It has now been five years since we started our journey with Star Reading with our children all the way from Year 3 to Year 6.

children progress celebration

Making progress: 14 months of reading progress in 10 months!

As the year goes on, I do a checkpoint of how the children are progressing from term to term and at the end of the year, I do a report showing the full breakdown of how many children have moved forward with their reading results. In Years 3, 4 and 5 last year, we recorded about 14 months of progress between September and June! All the standardised test results also went up between four and six points on average, which is wonderful to see!

Getting children reading at a challenging level

A key feature of Star Reading is that it feeds into Accelerated Reader. Accelerated Reader gets the children reading and quizzing on books they have read, whilst Star constantly measures the reading progress they are making. The way that they work together allows us to guide our children to the right book reading level for them, and we can also check on their comprehension, which is great.

teachers pupil progress meetings

Using data to inform progress meetings and inspections

The Star Reports are very useful. We use the Diagnostic and Growth Reports to track term-on-term progress. We have meetings with teachers where we go through these reports and then recommend changes towards the levels at which children are reading or giving them more support. I think it’s really important to do this check on whether children are on track to where we expect them to be. When you have inspections, it’s great to use the Star data to fall back on: for example, if your SATs results are not as good as you want them to be, you can use the Star data to demonstrate that the children are making consistent progress. It’s a good way to demonstrate progress made in-between key stages where there are no statutory tests. You can still say that your children are making progress, and it’s not just the Year 6 teacher who has to make that difference at the end.

Measuring and tracking attainment in our school

Star has been really good in measuring and tracking attainment. We use the Star Reader test to support our teacher assessment, so we’ve banded it similarly to the expected level (95+) as a standardised score. This is broadly where we look to show that they are on track. Similarly, at the higher end, we’re looking at a standardised score of 116+ to support whether they are exceeding expectations or working at greater depth.

Predicting SATs with Star Assessments

Comparing Star and SATs results

I saw the cut-off score provided by Renaissance last year in their linking study and it was definitely a good guide for us to see where our children fit in. The children who were falling beneath that cut-off score were children we were aware of already, and this reinforced our views on whom we needed to support. What was more outstanding was that 92% of the children who were scoring a standardised score of 100 or more went on to achieve the SATs age-related expectations. This information gives us the confidence to know that they are going to be okay in the SATs test itself.

Why we recommend Star Reading

Star Reading is really good for tracking. It enables you to know whether your children are reading at challenging levels, or how to keep helping them improve their reading. Star helps prevent children from coasting along to some extent, as long as you’ve got the resources to find a variety of books of different genres that they’re interested in.

If used well, the Star data gives you a clear picture of where children are and where they need to go to next. Because assessments have changed since the new curriculum, it has become more delicate to assess progress accurately. I think going back to standardised testing is probably the way forward, as we can keep a check on progress and take swift action when things don’t look right or when a child needs more support. This is definitely one of the key benefits of using Star Reading.

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