As a teacher, I would like to address the issue of the Accelerated Reader program. In short, Accelerated Reader is a program that tests students over books that they have read and awards points for high scores. Many schools offer incentives or even grades for students that meet point goals. The idea behind the program seems great, but the problem is, students are not actually benefiting from the program. According to a report by the US Department of Education, the average rate of improvement in reading comprehension based on usage of the program is zero points. (What Works Clearninghouse, 2008) The program does not actually provide any instruction to the students, thus it does not actually help students to become better readers (Biggers, 2001). Additionally, in my own experience as a teacher, I have noticed that students tend to rush through books so that they can take a large number of tests, rather than reading carefully and thoughtfully as good readers should. Students are awarded a percentage of the possible points even when scoring poorly on the tests. This means that a student can achieve their points goal while still scoring poorly on their tests, meaning that they are being rewarded for mediocre to poor work. In addition, the program also turns students away from quality books that do not have quizzes; students do not want to "waste" their time reading a book if there is not something in it for them. In the end, it is an expensive program that data has not shown is not effective. As educators, we need to find better, research based approaches to instructing our students.
Biggers, D. (2001). The argument against accelerated reader. In Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy(Vol. 45, pp. 72-75). Retrieved from http://dianedalenberg.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/argument-against-ar.pdf.
What Works Clearinghouse. US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. (2008).Accelerated reader. what works clearinghouse intervention report(http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502922.pdf). Retrieved from website: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502922.pdf
(1) Is the Accelerated Reader program by Renaissance Learning an effective tool for measuring reading comprehension? What are the long term effects on the reader’s desire to read for enjoyment?
(2) I will be studying my 4th grade students.
(3) In my study, I will be looking at the effectiveness of the Accelerated Reader program in terms of measuring reading comprehension as well as improving student attitudes towards reading.
(4) To gauge the effectiveness of the program, I will have the students complete reading attitude surveys at the beginning and end of my research. I will also analyze student test scores and compare them with oral and/or written summaries of the book conveyed/written by the students.
(5) For the reading attitudes portion, my research will take a non-experimental quantitative design. Students will be taking surveys as the main means of determining their attitudes towards reading. To determine the effectiveness of the program in terms of measuring reading comprehension, I will take a mixed-method approach, focusing more on the explanatory research design. In phase one, I will look at the test scores of the students. In phase two, I will interview students or ask for written summaries which will be used to determine whether the Accelerated Reader quiz score seems to align with the depth of understanding conveyed in the oral or written summary.
As a frequent TED talk viewer, I wasn't disappointed a bit by Gladwell's talk! Not only was it entertaining, but I felt that it related extremely well with not only educational research, but education in general. In regards to research, the idea of finding the right Pepsis is exactly how educational researchers should be thinking in terms of solving the problems of the American education system. There is not going to be one right answer that will work for every student and teacher in every school in every state in the country. Instead, researchers should be focusing on collecting groupings of strategies that have proven effective and allow teachers to pick and choose what is right for them as teachers as well as what is right for their students. Having taught in different parts of the country, I know that even simple geography can make a difference in terms of what works in a classroom and what doesn't.
In terms of education in general, teachers should have a separate vision for each student. Just like Pepsi, there is not one perfect student; they are all individuals and should be taught as such. Not all students are college bound, not all want to be a doctor, some want to work outdoors or at home. As teachers, we need to teach our students to be the best they can be, not to be what we think they should be. Should we encourage students to explore all their options? Of course! But should we pressure students into something that isn't a fit for them? I don't think so, and if we can take anything from this talk, it should be that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to education research and reform, nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution for our students.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!