Since September, we have been getting to grips with Accelerated Reader, our new scheme to promote reading for pleasure and, as the title suggests, accelerate children's reading progress. Access to Accelerated Reader begins shortly after children become free readers, though all readers from Year 4 - 6 are registered to Accelerated Reader.
In September the children took their first Star Test to get them started on Accelerated Reader and have taken termly Star Tests thereafter.
Star Assessments are short tests that provide teachers with learning data. Star tests are computer adaptive, which means they adjust to each answer your child provides. This helps teachers get the best data to help your child in the shortest amount of testing time (about one-third of the time other tests take).
The tests must be taken completely independently and unlike other tests, children have to train themselves not to guess questions and to spend plenty of time going through the test. In fact, the longer the test takes, the better they are likely to be doing. That is because the test is personalised to the child as they take it. No two tests are the same, As children answer questions correctly, a harder question is asked. A minimum of 16 minutes is expected but most children take up to 25 - 30 minutes. A missed/timed out question is more indicative than a guessed answer whether correct or incorrect. If a child answers a question incorrectly, the test adapts to ask an easier question.
In the case of Star Tests, slow and steady DEFINITELY wins the race!
The children complete up to 5 practice questions which are the same for all children. The next 10 questions are vocabulary based and a further 24 questions are then based on small paragraphs of increasing complexity.
The results are available immediately. A reading age, percentage of growth since last test (progress) and a recommended ZPD range is advised. This is the optimal range of books that are best suited to your child's ability. The range will provide a range of books that will provide some challenge and help them feel successful as a reader. Fluctuation over the year is to be expected and this is measured into the ZPD.
Unlike reading schemes, the children are in the driving seat with Accelerated Reader.
They can choose what they read within their range. As long as they choose approximately 70% of their books from this range, they are able to choose a book of a lower and higher ZPD if they are really keen to read a paticular book - AR is about Reading for Pleasure!
Inside our school books, we show the quiz number, interest level, book level and points value.
This is about content.
LY - interest level and content is most likely to appeal to 7-9 year olds. Older children might be interested too, that's fine.
MY - interest level and content is suited for mature 9 year olds, 10 and 11 year olds.
MY+ - content becomes a little more grown up; there could be mild swearing, mild violence, crime, loss etc. The suggested age for MY+ is 12 - 13. In our library, we have a shelf of books exclusively for Years 5 & 6 which contains some MY+ titles. Teachers will make a judgement about the maturity of the child and appropriateness of the content. There will be a dialogue between staff and child. Year 3 and 4 will not be allowed MY+ in school. Titles will have been read by at least one member of staff.
UY - Only the most mature Year 6 readers will have access to UY books in consultation with their parents. In the main, UY is applied to classic fiction, but also Young Adult (YA) ; a few high-adrenalin adventure stories from well-loved series,mild horror and complex realistic fiction which might involve sensitive themes. We have a few books in this category, but they are on Mr Bradley's and Mrs Griffith's personal book shelves and will have been read by the staff. Jacqueline Wilson and Anthony Horowitz are both popular authors who may appear in this category.
This is the level attributed to the book based on its word count, complexity, vocabulary, structure and length. This is what the ZPD range covers. Interestingly, teenage books may have UY content but the difficulty level will often be lower than the fantastic books we are able to offer our children here at St. Teresa's.
All books on the AR database are assigned a quiz. This is a mini quiz to be taken as soon as the child finishes their book. Each quiz has around 10 questions that checks your child's understanding of the book. Children get the result instantly as a percentage and are awarded points.
AR rewards reading and however those rewards are distributed, all the children are able to achieve. Books at the opening levels are shorter so children are able to read more of them and gain points whereas a bigger book might yield more points but but takes longer to read. In school, classes can decide how to reward but there are some whole school rewards too. Once a quiz is completed the word count of the finished points are accrued individually and as a class. The more books read in a class, the higher the word count.
At the end of term, certificates are awarded for highest word counts. The totalisers are keenly watched by eager children.
Additionally, the chidren are excited and motivated to become word millionaires. We have three individual millionnaires in Year 6 currently and one in Year 4. There are children on the cusp of being millionaires.......watch this space. Our main method of rewarding is thorugh the 100 club. Children who achieve 100% in a quiz are entered into an end of term raffle. One entry for every quiz with full marks. WE have given out several autographed books already.
In a recent training session, Miss Ireland and I had to order a set of books into its book level just by looking at the cover., from highest to lowest. I thought you might enjoy the challenge too! Which book has the highest book level and which has the lowest? Match the Book Level to the book! The titles and authors with a list of jumbled book levels is in the link below as the images are a little small.
If you are reading books from your home collection or want to chose a book when out shopping, use the AR bookfinder to see what book level has been allocated to your chosen book. If you finish a book at home and you have been including it in your reading record, you can take a quiz on it. This applies to newly completed books, not books you have read in the past. Your ZPD reading range is inside your school reading records. It is also possible to scan barcodes and QR codes with phone apps to check a book you might want to buy.
During lockdown, AR quizzes can be taken at home through Home Connect, MyOn or through Renaissance Place ( link above) Once school resumes, home access for quizzing will be restricted again to school hours,