AR Is Failing Our Students

What is the purpose of Accelerated Reader in our curriculum? Is it to improve our students’ ability to read? If so, then it is currently failing to meet that purpose since it limits what the student may read to meet that classroom requirement.

  • We have very few AR tests on non-fiction books, including biographies.
  • Purchasing procedure limits the ability to add new books. Research is showing that teens want to read the currently popular books.
  • AR tests are not available for all books
  • Popular adult authors that teens would enjoy do not have AR tests (Danielle Steel and Robin Cook books have been removed from the library because students weren’t reading them. They weren’t reading them because they didn’t have an AR test. Prior to AR these were popular authors with students.)
  • AR tests do not exist for magazines

Because of these limits, many students are reading only to fulfill a classroom assignment and not because they are enjoying what they are reading. Thus, many of them do not read. Perhaps we need to look at what the students enjoy reading as a means to improve their ability to read. The senior blogs in response to the question, “If the saying is true, ‘You are what you read,’ then what are you?” reinforced a lot of what was presented by Rollie Welch about teen reading, particularly what the guys read. These blogs indicate the students are reading

  • Sports biographies [male]
  • Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, Slam Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Outdoor Life (magazines) [male]
  • Comic books (graphic novels) [male]
  • Romances [female]
  • Murder mystery [female] [male]
  • Problem / death [female]
  • Fantasy [male]
  • Western [male]
  • Friendship [female]
  • Relationships [female]
  • Suspense [female]
  • Sports page (newspaper) [male]
  • Sports message boards (Internet) [male]
  • News [male]
  • Horror / suspense [male / female]

 How will we use this information?  Will we change the purchasing procedure to

  • Purchase books more often (fewer at a time)
  • Purchase AR tests for non-fiction
  • Purchase more sports magazines
  • Add graphic novels to the collection

Will we allow students to read materials that don’t have an AR test to fulfill the classroom requirement? If we truly want to improve reading, then we need to capitalize on the enjoyment behind the reading.

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