How I Use It
I used Accelerated Reader for a number of years with elementary students. Accelerated Reader 360 was a recent improvement. I also used the companion program STAR for student reading assessments.
I felt STAR gave an accurate rate for silent reading on a computer platform. The scores gave students a reading range for books rated on quantitative measures using words and sentences, although not complexity of ideas. The STAR reading ranges were a useful starting point for getting students in books at their reading levels, and the STAR assessments could be administered quarterly to show one measure of reading growth. For several years I color coded books in my classroom library with the AR reading levels.
Accelerated Reader book quizzes were useful to measure a student’s recall of facts and details of books recently read. Various tools in the AR suite enabled the teacher to set reading goals for individual students, chart their progress, and identify instructional needs. Accelerated Reading could be used to encourage reluctant readers. Some students were motivated to read because they liked taking the AR quizzes. Others found the quizzes a distraction and the questions trivial.
The breadth of the online catalog of AR book quizzes is impressive. This online resource is far superior to AR's early days when schools had to purchase book quizzes individually.
Another plus is AR Book Find, a free online resource that shows the AR levels of books.
The biggest downside to AR was the cost. The hosting fee was high and the components (AR and STAR) had to be purchased together. Also, students had to use AR from school; home use was not allowed by the contract. As the school year got busy, less time was available during class for students to do the AR book quizzes. As curriculums changed, fewer teachers in our school used AR and our PTA decided the program was too costly to continue funding.
A lesser known part of the AR book quizzes were the Literacy quizzes, which offered questioning at a deeper level. Unfortunately, these Literacy quizzes were far few in number.