Have you ever heard of Accelerated Reader?

I hadn’t until today and now that I have, I’m horrified. It’s apparently a computer-driven reading program used in schools to enable teachers to check up on whether or not a child has read an assigned book.

Educators have argued that the use of Accelerated Reader does not teach reading for comprehension; it only teaches reading for recall

Renaissance Learning, the product’s developer, has stated that its intended purpose is to assess whether or not a student has read a book,[4] not to assess higher order thinking skills, to teach or otherwise replace curriculum, to supersede the role of the teacher, or to provide extrinsic reward.

Concerns exist that in classrooms using Accelerated Reader that student reading choices are restricted to the quiz titles available in the software. …  Close to 150,000 book titles exist in the Accelerated Reader quiz database according to Renaissance Learning, Inc, to date (according to Google Books) over 168,000,000 book titles have been published,[23] over 7,000,000 of which have been fully scanned and cataloged by Google.[24]Thus, the ability for a student to explore books which are neither currently commercially popular nor part of major book lists is severely restricted in reality by the Accelerated Reader program. There are many reasons why a program like Accelerated Reader may choose to exclude certain titles. Books that don’t lend themselves to being read all the way through and quizzed on may be excluded. This includes books primarily used as a reference and books of songs, poetry, and jokes. Very old or outdated material, literature of very low quality, and books no longer in print may be excluded.

I can’t think of anything better designed to destroy a love of reading than a program that restricts kids to a committee – approved reading list made up of 150,000 titles out of 168,000,000 published! The joy of serendipitously discovering a book, or better yet an author, is something a reader of any age can experience, so long as he isn’t force fed and restricted to what the central committee has decreed he should read. This sounds awful and because it sounds so modern and “technological”, it’s probably in Greenwich schools. Anyone know?

UPDATE: It’s not. Good for Greenwich.


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4 responses to “Have you ever heard of Accelerated Reader?

  1. Anonymous

    Well, Newtown is using the AR program. Is this the article that horrified you? http://greenwich.patch.com/blog_posts/what-i-learned-from-kids-about-accelerated-reader If not, prepare to be more horrified.

    The only answer I could find on the GPS website was a link on the North Mianus page but it looks like it might be option for parents to use. http://www.greenwichschools.org/page.cfm?p=9958

  2. Anonymous

    Definitely not in the curriculum, not sure if one of the schools is/will be piloting it. Schools are doing a nice job with literature thanks to the new Language Arts coordinator (Jen Mitchell). I confess to being cynical every now and again (I griped about the lack of geography not too long ago), but I applaud the district and teachers for getting this one right. Guided reading with thoughtful book selection and discussion IS happening in Greenwich. I have seen technology on the math side, but thus far it has been supplemental to the curriculum and quite good (necessary, even, to teach basic concepts that everyday math glosses over).

    • That’s a relief, and thanks for the information. Even my youngest, Sarah, has been out of the system for (Good Lord, six?) years now, so I don’t keep up.