Latest success stories from Renaissance Learning

Moving AR success up a gear at Woodside

Woodside High School, North East London

Literacy has been a major focus over the last few years and the Accelerated Reader programme has been at the heart of it. The programme was first implemented three years ago and was delivered by the English department. Reading became fully embedded in the curriculum; this had a massive impact on students’ ability to concentrate in lessons, especially when reading extended texts. The idea was not only to improve students’ reading ages but to also create a culture of reading at Woodside High.

The Library, together with a very enthusiastic Librarian, has played an intrinsic role in inculcating excellent reading habits. Accelerated Reader has successfully inspired a new generation of readers, from having a few students infrequently use the Library to having queues at lunch times and after school. The Library is now a hive of activity with students demanding far more books to choose from.

Due to the Accelerated Reader at Woodside High school, we decided to move up a gear by joining the Renaissance School Partnership programme. The RSP team has been very supportive with training and online help whenever we have needed it to help us move forward with our implementation of AR.

We currently have all our KS3 classes involved with the programme and tutors have also embraced the reading drive. Students are constantly reminded of their achievements by being awarded with medals, by the Heads of Year, for the best engaged reading time and percentage correct. This has motivated students to become extremely competitive in the bid to attain a place on the wall of fame in our creatively designed Reading Room. The word barometer impressively reflects our first entrant into our Millionaires Club – an exclusive group of those who have read over a million words. This student has been speaking English for just over a year and has already read 1,300,000 words. Data from the STAR Reading reports shows that many of our students have made at least a year of progress in their reading ages, with some making four to five years of progress in the first term.

Chart showing the reading growth at Woodside High School by class

Most classes at Woodside High School have made above expected progress with reading in the three months September to December 2014. Some classes have achieved as much as three times the growth expected.

It is amazing to see students chasing down their teachers while excitedly waving their TOPS report, hoping to share the results from their quiz. The joy of watching them read for pleasure and ask questions about words or complex ideas is incredibly gratifying. This has had a huge impact on students’ ability to access the curriculum not just in English but across every subject area. We also have a reading intervention group, lead by our Accelerated Reader champion, to encourage our struggling readers further to learn the joy of reading.

At the moment, students are reading at least four books each. Our EAL teacher has commented on how effective the Accelerated Reader programme has been. Her students, who are beginners in English, are acquiring skills in six weeks that would otherwise take her three months to embed. Students are more comfortable with sentence structure and acquiring new vocabulary. This is a very positive experience for students who would generally struggle with basic literacy needs. The STAR Early Literacy programme has also been crucial in eradicating issues with phonemic and grapheme awareness and many other skills that we take for granted.

We use the data generated by the reports during Progress Evenings to have very productive conversations about children’s reading at home. We remind parents to read with their children and sign students’ bookmarks so they can track their children’s reading ages and quiz results. We consider it vital to have parents’ support in continuing to develop healthy reading habits in their children. It is really touching to note that in some instances parents are using their children’s Accelerated Reader book to improve their English as well, and other parents wanted their child to share their new skills with them.

Chart showing the reading growth at Woodside High School by year group

In the three months September to December 2014, every year group at Woodside High School has made at least expected progress with reading. Growth has been as much as twice the expected level.

We are enjoying tremendous success with Accelerated Reader. This is helped in large part by the way the team works so well together. Our SLT with our Associate Head drive the programme forward, supported by tutor teams with strong heads of year and a phenomenal English department where nothing is daunting. Reading is flourishing because we are lucky to have a forward thinking Headteacher who believes in giving every child an opportunity to achieve success.

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