Positives and Negatives of the Accelerated Reading Program
I am not a reading expert but recently I wrote that my younger kids each learned to read at a much earlier age than my oldest did. I opined that it likely was because the little kids had older siblings as role models and ‘reading buddies’.
I placed that conversation on Facebook and the response I got was unexpected at best. Several friends jumped in and agreed; their younger kids were better readers.
And then someone threw out a point that resonated with the other moms.
Her kids all loved to read when they were at home before they entered to school. But after Kindergarten and even First Grade they were not reading on grade level any longer, in fact they didn’t like to read at all.
It turns out that many moms agreed the Accelerated Reading Program was the Evil Villain in the reading equation. (This was not a scientific study, just a Facebook anecdote.) Wow, I had to agree, my kids hate AR and the ‘points’ system and taking tests, too. My 4th grader is a very advanced reader and she is basically not allowed to read what she wants. There are only a small set of books available with tests (the school cannot afford more tests as they are VERY expensive).
Studies about implementing AR seem very positive. Take for example the following synopsis:
“Ross, Nunnery, and Goldfeder (2004) studied 1,665 students and 76 teachers (grades K-6) from 11 schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Many of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Teachers were randomly assigned to use Accelerated Reader or to continue regular curriculum without the software. Students in classrooms with Accelerated Reader demonstrated gains. Additionally, many of the teachers responded positively to the software and highly supported the software. Many also indicated that they would continue to use the software.
In another study, Nunnery, Ross, and McDonald (2006) used hierarchical linear modeling to assess the reading achievement of students in grades 3-6. This model incorporated the effects of individual, classroom, and school variables that impact reading achievement. Regardless, those in Accelerated Reader classrooms still outperformed students in control classrooms. Furthermore, students with learning disabilities in high implementation classrooms did not suffer from their disabilities as much as similar students in low or no implementation classrooms.” –Wikipedia
So why do so many moms disagree with this data? I have a theory. I wonder if children with adequate parental support (and siblings too) simply do not need the AR ‘incentive’. In the studies mentioned above, most of the children are targeted as ‘at risk’. I’m not trying to stir the pot and I believe all children absolutely should get as much reading help as possible.
If a child shows proficient reading skills and a love of reading, why can’t they opt out of the AR testing scheme? Especially when it causes a detrimental reading issue with them?
What are your thoughts about AR, or any other ‘testing’ type of learning program where the emphasis is on points and technology instead of one on one teaching?
In a former life, Carissa Rogers was a molecular biologist. In her current life, she is the chief researcher of bloggy karma, parenting dos (and some don’ts), new recipes, and for spice she pretends to be a photographer. She started blogging in February of 2008 and publishes her good & crazy thoughts on GoodNCrazy.com. Also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
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