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Accelerated Reader

Lead Teacher for Whole School Literacy - Miss Morgan


Smithills School invests in this very successful scheme from Renaissance Learning in order to help develop your child’s reading skills and raise standards in literacy. All Year 7 and 8 students are participating in the Accelerated Reader programme during their English lessons and fortnightly library lesson. In addition, year 9 pupils take the STAR reading test at regular intervals and are supported in choosing books to read for pleasure and for learning. They also benefit from a fornightly library lesson.


The principle behind this programme is to promote a lifelong love of reading in every student, regardless of aptitude or ability. It is designed to do the following:

  • Make essential reading practice more effective for every student
  • Personalise reading practice to each student’s current level
  • Assess students’ reading skills through fun quizzes so that intervention strategies can be brought in when necessary.
  • Accelerate reading growth (progress) by a whole year.

Please see the information below and/or the Parent's Guide attached here for further information.


How it works:

  1. Students take a diagnostic (STAR) reading test to determine their reading age and National Curriculum level at the beginning of every term. Next they choose a book of an appropriate book ‘level’.
  2. Students take a quiz. Accelerated Reader currently offers 140,000 quizzes which should cover most stock in the library. These help to motivate and monitor students’ reading performance and vocabulary growth. They also ensure that a student has actually understood what they have read.
  3. You receive immediate feedback on the reading progress of each student in the form of data, percentages and points score. As parents you can view their quiz results, monitor their progress and find guidance on suitable books to read via the Accelerated Reader Bookfinder website. As your child’s points score increases, certificates and prizes are awarded. This is likely to encourage some healthy competition between students, not to mention classes and teachers!



My child prefers non-fiction to fiction. Does this matter?

No, there are many non-fiction books in the library which are part of the scheme and were chosen to complement what your child is studying in other curricular areas. Encourage your child to take out books linked to a current topic being studied in another subject. They can then take a quiz on this book during their English lesson.


My child is a reluctant reader. What can I do?

Model reading regularly. Take an interest in what your child is reading. Make sure you have lots of books and magazines around the house and show your child how to access eBooks. Think about swapping the games console for a Kindle or e-reader! Try to incorporate whole family ‘reading time’ into the daily routine.


When should I stop reading to my child?

Never! Listening to others reading aloud encourages children to read with fluency and expression themselves.


How do I know what level my child is?

Ask your child for his or her STAR reading report. This gives lots of vital information. If he or she has lost it, please contact the school for a replacement. These are taken 3 times a year.


How do we find a book of the correct level for my child?

 Let your child check out the AR Bookfinder website. All they’ll need to know is their book level. If they’re in school, they should look at the coloured spots on the spines of the books then match them up with the charts on the wall in the library. Or ask the librarian for help. Follow the link to find out more...



My child says they can’t find a book they like. What do you suggest?

First, ask the librarian which the most popular books are for their age and reading ability. Secondly, look at the ‘Recommended Reads’ board in the library. These are books recommended by students for students. With thousands of books to choose from, it is very unlikely that there will be nothing of interest to them: it just means they haven't found it yet!


Do they have to read books from the school library in order to take the quizzes on the computer?

No, there are over 140,000 books in the programme and this is increasing every day as the latest books become ‘quizzable’.


Does it matter if we choose a book of the wrong level?

This very much depends if your child is enjoying what he or she is reading! If they are, let them carry on. If you see your child struggling, not getting past the first few pages, it might well be too hard for them. Be guided rather than restricted by their book level.


How long should my child be reading each day?

A minimum of 20 minutes a day is required to see accelerated progress. However, the more reading your child does the greater the level of progress they will make.


How else can parents help?

Mainly by ensuring that their children are bringing a reading book to school every day, not just when they have English. Also, remember that reading is an on-going and integral and part of their English homework, whether or not it has been written down in the planner! If in doubt, please contact your child’s English teacher.


How do you know this scheme works?

We have seen the way students respond to the prospect of using a computer in their English lessons, and noticed how even the most reluctant readers can be encouraged to read a whole book, knowing they will earn some computer time. Others are motivated by the regular certificates, achieved when they have read and successfully passed quizzes on a certain number of books. Most are very competitive and enjoy knowing how many words they have read. Finally, the increase in reading age for those participating in the scheme (and for some students this can be quite dramatic), gives us the concrete evidence we need!


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