While I was reading through the multitude of information regarding adolescents and literacy, I concluded that at the absolute base of literacy is reading. Reading, of course, can mean different things, e.g. “reading” pictures, etc. Then, I came across an article about the downfalls of the Accelerated Reader program that has been implemented in about a zillion and two schools across America.
When my oldest child started school and began that program, there was something that I didn’t like about it, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. My son has always been very advanced at reading so it wasn’t anything I could quickly figure out as to why I wasn’t liking AR.
However, my daughter, she is not as advanced as my son so I was able to realize more quickly what it was that I didn’t like.
I did not like that she wasn’t allowed to go above her “reading level.” At her open house, she got to show me an AR quiz that is typical of what she takes for the books she reads. I noticed that these quizzes had nothing to do with reading comprehension. These questions, there are five total, are about various things that happened in the book that don’t delve into any kind of an analysis. Basically, they are memory recall questions. The other thing I did not like was that the kids were rewarded for getting an x number of AR points.
First, shouldn’t my child, and all of the other children, be encouraged to go above their reading level so that they can challenge themselves? Second, these quiz questions should actually have something to do with reading comprehension and critical thinking. Otherwise, they should stop calling it a reading comprehension quiz. Third, if the kids are reading in order to get a reward, doesn’t this defeat the entire purpose???
I have heard first hand from students that they aren’t actually reading all of these books. They will skim through, answer the questions and pass, and then get points for something they did half-assed.
So, bottom line, Accelerated Reader sucks. I am in the process of developing something better. I hope anyway. I won’t know if what I want to replace it with is better until I try it. And, I’ve got to get through credentialing school for that. lol ;)