Many schools use the Accelerated Reader Program (AR) to guide students’ independent reading. In essence, children read books and take a computer based AR quiz to earn points. Points are based on the reading level of the book and the word length. Points are awarded based on the quiz score. A student must earn a passing score to receive points for a quiz.
Your child’s AR level is determined by a test called Star Reading. This test is part of Renaissance Learning’s suite of programs designed to work in conjunction with AR. Star Reading is a multiple choice test with a fill in the blank format. Students read a sentence and choose the word that best fits the blank. The test is self-adjusting because question difficulty varies based on whether students answer correctly.
In essence, Star Reading is a test of vocabulary. This is appropriate because vocabulary is an excellent predictor of reading ability. I have found the Star Reading test to be quite accurate for my students.
Observations and Comments:
- Most children do not read at grade level. This makes sense, because grade level is basically a median. Half the students are above, half the students are below. The child’s AR level is usually determined by a statistic called independent reading level, which is the level of books a child can comfortably read on his own.
- Sometimes parents want their child to read above the assigned AR level, but this can be a mistake. Children improve by reading books that are fairly easy for them. If the child is struggling to read the words, he can’t understand the story. The child will not improve reading comprehension by practicing like this.
- The way to move up in AR levels is to read, read, read! Encourage your child to read everything available at his or her level. By doing this, your child will pick up new vocabulary words. The Star Reading score will rise, as will the AR level.
Connection: You can also help your child build vocabulary by reading aloud. Choose books that are above your child’s AR level. Children can listen at a much higher level than they can read themselves. Your child will naturally absorb new vocabulary.