Accelerated Reader is a reading accountability program that all language arts classes participate in here at MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School. The objective of Accelerated Reader is to have every student independently read and comprehend grade-level texts. To reach this aim, students are required to choose any book from a list of over 50,000 titles and read it within a two-week time frame. At the end of this time, students will take a ten-question comprehension quiz on the computer. If a student receives a 7 out of 10 or better, the student passes the quiz and receives credit for words in the book.
Every grade level has a yearly word goal, and the goal is reached by passing tests on the computer system. The eighth-grade level goal is 800,000 words. The word total is the most important component of the of a student's grade for Accelerated Reader.
Accelerated Reader Grades
To ensure that every student recognizes the value of this program, we have established Accelerated Reader as 20% of students' overall grade. However, the word total is not the only contribution to this grade. To create a program that is both rigorous and supportive, the Accelerated Reader grade is measured by the word total achieved and not by the difficulty or length of an individual title.
Word Totals: During each six-week grading period, students will receive a single 100 point score that represents the percentage of words toward the goal achieved. In a six-week period, students would need to read 150,000 words or more to reach the grade-level goal of 800,000. Therefore, if students reach 150,000 words or more, they will receive a score of 100/100. The scale for each grading period will be posted in Canvas for students to track their own progress. Additionally, the word totals will be included in the comments of Aeries assignment for students and parents to review.
In order to help students reach their goal, they will have an additional assignment known as the Reading Packet for each six-week term. The Reading Packet includes a progress monitoring tool, a reading log, and Accelerated Reader notes. The Reading Packets, however, will be recorded in the Participation category in Aeries and not the Reading category. Students will cease using the reading log in the packet when they achieve 800,000 words. When they reach 1,000,000 words, they are no longer required to take notes for their books, either.
Tips for Parents
Parents play an important role in helping students to achieve their annual goals in reading. Please consider the following tips to help your child succeed in reading.
- Students should always have a book. Carrying an independent reading book is a daily requirement for all MacArthur students. The school library is open before school, after school, and often during nutrition and lunch. Also, Mr. Celestino has a classroom library from which students can check out books, and the class will regularly visit the school library during class, too. Basically, students have regular access to books and are required to always have one. However, it does help if they can visit public libraries, or make occasional purchases from book stores or online sites. Getting a new book can be motivating for students, but it is not required or necessary to succeed.
- The nightly homework assignment is reading. To reach the yearly goal, an eighth-grade student should read at least 4 hours each week. That breaks down to about 35 minutes a night. Of course, some students have after-school activities, such as sports, and reading might not occur every single night. If the goal is going to be reached, though, that time must be invested and accounted for. As a parent, help your child develop a reading schedule. Make sure they have a quiet setting that is free from distractions when they are reading.
- Students should always track their progress. Not only is the Accelerated Reader program available to students in class on an almost daily basis, but they should also be tracking their progress on the cover of their reading packet. Your child should be able to report her/his word total and explain what books they have successfully passed. Have regular conversations with your child about likes and dislikes, what (s)he likes and dislikes, and how (s)he is going to add words in the coming weeks.
An alternative program to Reading Counts!, Reading Plus is a reading accountability program with a more targeted approach through leveled, short texts designed to be completed in a single setting. Unlike Reading Counts, Reading Plus is completed entirely online. However, it does have a similar advantage of student choice in reading selections. The program includes four types of assignments:
- See Readers: The most common type of Reading Plus assignment, See Readers guide students through the text one line at a time as assessed by their reading rate. Once students get through the text, they have a series of comprehension questions to complete. Students successfully pass the See Reader if they complete the comprehension questions with an 80% or better score.
- Read Arounds: To practice vocabulary skills, students complete Read Arounds. This assignment includes sight recognition of words as well as in-context practice. Read Arounds are significantly shorter than See Readers, typically taking about 5 minutes to complete. Also, students cannot "fail" Read Arounds. They will not move onto new words until they can successfully recognize and use the word in context.
- iBalance: In order to improve the visual skill set required for tracking lines in reading, the iBalance assignments are game-like activities where students distinguish patterns along a line of text. Most students will not have to complete iBalance assignments regularly because it targets the physical, motor skills of reading.
- InSight Assessment: Given at the beginning of the school year, students will generally complete this assignment entirely in class. The InSight Assessment gauges student reading a vocabulary ability in order to build assignment levels and recommendations for the other Reading Plus activities.
Reading Plus Grades
Each week students will receive one entry in Aeries for their Reading Plus progress. The grading requirement will change between semester 1 and semester 2, as described below.
- Semester 1: Students will be assigned 4 See Readers and 4 Read Arounds for a total of 8 assignments each week. In Aeries, they will receive a grade out of 20 points. Therefore, each assignment will be worth 3 or 2 points, for See Readers and Read Arounds accordingly. If a student does not complete the assignments, the incomplete portions will be noted in the comments of the assignment.
- Semester 2: Students will be assigned 4 See Readers and 4 Read Arounds for a total of 8 assignments each week. In Aeries, they will receive a grade out of 20 points. However, students will only receive credit for successful See Readers. Therefore, a complete week in which no See Readers were passed would only be worth 12/20 points. Students may take additional See Readers to make up for those they failed. For all students under 20/20, the number of successful See Readers will be noted in the comments of the assignment.
In order to help students complete their week, they will have an additional assignment known as the Reading Packet for each six-week term. The Reading Packet includes a progress monitoring tool and a reading log. The Reading Packets, however, will be recorded in the Participation category in Aeries and not the Reading category.
Tips for Parents
Parents play an important role in helping students to reach success in reading. Please consider the following tips to help with successful engagement in Reading Plus.
- Students should finish most of the weekly assignments in class. A See Reader will take between 10-20 minutes. That means on any given week, Reading Plus will take somewhere between 90 to 150 minutes. Students will have no less than 60 minutes of class time a week to work on Reading Plus. To complete a week, it will require some homework time, but not more than 20 minutes a day.
- Procrastinating can cause students to record an incomplete week. The Reading Plus week runs from Friday through Thursday. If a student waits to complete too many See Readers on Thursday night, they can get locked out of the program. To offer support, Reading Plus puts any student who is not having success with their See Readers "on hold". Only teachers can free up the hold. Therefore, if students go home on Thursday night with 3 See Readers to complete, and they don't have success on the assignments, they could be locked out. Basically, check in on student progress earlier in the week to make sure the assignments are at least being completed.
- The student's eyes should be on the screen when using Reading Plus. See Readers highlight the text one line at a time. If students are not looking anywhere but the screen, there will be text that they miss. Give students a quiet, distraction-free environment to complete Reading Plus assignments.
- Students should be able to report their progress. Not only should students be able to tell you how their week is progressing, they should also be able to report their reading level and their reading rate. As the year goes on, students' reading level and reading rate should both go up. In order to gain a level, students have to achieve "combos" by passing consecutive See Readers. Their level progress and reading rate are all recorded on the front of the Reading Packet.