Students in kindergarten through third grade are learning to read. In fourth grade and up, students make a significant shift, and they are then reading to learn. In order for students to be successful in the middle through high school grades, it’s important for them to have a solid foundation of reading skills.
In order to ensure that students have the necessary reading skills, teachers need to know if students are below level or on level for their age group. Additionally, to better differentiate reading instruction, teachers also need to know three additional levels for each student: instructional level, frustration level and independent reading level.
Many schools utilize Accelerated Reader scores and information obtained from the tests to more effectively teach reading and develop students into strong readers.
What Is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader is a software program that schools use to determine the reading levels of students. It’s a computer-based system, so students can work independently. Students read passages or AR books and then take a quiz at the end. The levels become more challenging as it progresses.
What Is the Accelerated Reader Test?
The AR test is the short quiz administered at the end of a reading book used to determine a student’s reading level. It is a multiple-choice test, and students take the test at a computer. The quiz usually lasts about 15 minutes.
Accelerated Reader Levels
AR reading levels are directly aligned with grade levels. In other words, if your child is in fourth grade, to be considered on level, his AR reading level score would be about 4.0 through 4.8. Teachers generally have an idea of where a student is in terms of reading level and will place him in the proper AR level.
Here’s an example. AR reading level of 5.2: This score is equivalent to what an on-level reader in the second month of fifth grade would be able to independently read.
As students progress, they will be placed in a more advanced AR reading level with more challenging books and tests. If they are not making progress, they will be shifted back to a lower AR reading level.
What Do Teachers Do With AR Scores?
The information provided by AR scores helps a teacher to determine how a student is progressing through the reading curriculum. These scores and AR levels will determine whether or not a student is on level, below level or above level in reading.
Accelerated Reader Points
As students progress through the AR reading levels, they are assigned points. They can earn and accrue points each time they successfully read an AR book and pass the quiz.
How are AR points determined? Students earn points once they have read the book and passed the quiz. The amount of points that can be earned increases with the complexity of the reading levels. The further up the AR reading levels, the more points can be earned.
Schools will often celebrate the number of points earned by students each year. Some may have an end of the year celebration for the most points earned or the most growth made by students. The AR point system can be a motivator for some students to grow in their independent reading practices.
How Can Accelerated Reader Scores Be Improved?
To improve AR scores or reading levels, consider applying the same techniques to improve general reading comprehension skills. To improve AR scores and progress through the system, consider the following:
- Read the book out loud first and then silently.
- List the main characters of the story while reading.
- Jot down what happened first, next and last while reading.
- Read the book out loud to a partner and talk about the events.
Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.