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Reading goes up a level at Wycombe Abbey

School News September 16, 2020
Reading goes up a level at Wycombe Abbey

From Grade 2 to Grade 5 across the Primary School, we are rolling out an exciting new reading programme called Accelerated Reader (AR). This online programme is now used by millions of pupils worldwide and is arguably the most accurate way of assessing pupils' reading comprehension skills available to teachers.

So what is Accelerated Reader and why is it so significant?

Firstly, the AR programme can discover a child's reading age over a half-hour reading test. The questions are computer-adapted so they become more or less advanced, depending on how the pupil is answering. Gradually the test can determine the reading age of the pupil. An additional benefit to this is that pupils can take a Reading Age Test simultaneously as a class.

Once teachers have the reading age of their pupils, they can gauge how well that pupil is doing compared to peers of the same year group in the UK by using the 'benchmark' facility. The benchmark is given at the 40th percentile of all UK pupils doing this reading test and it is the benchmark which experts agree is the best target for children to reach or to exceed by the end of the academic year.

But perhaps more exciting than this, is the second part of the Accelerated Reader Programme which our pupils are participating in. This part is the ‘library’ of book quizzes which AR has available online. The statistics are now quite astonishing about just how many book quizzes have been uploaded onto the AR system, with more than 25,000 quizzes now available. Every single book and book quiz on the system has an ATOS level, and here at Wycombe Abbey Primary we have ATOS-levelled every single chapter book and Oxford Reading Tree book in the library and reading room so that the children can take any quiz suitable for their level.

Already some children have started taking these quizzes at home and at school, and within a month, we expect that all pupils from Grade 2 to Grade 5 will be taking the book quizzes regularly.

But the best part of all about the AR system is that the children really enjoy and are enthusiastic about being part of this reading cycle which AR can provide: 

1) choosing a book which they like at their level

2) reading the book at their own pace

3) taking the book quiz when it is convenient for them

4) seeing what mark they have achieved

5) tallying up the points they have earned after completion

All the data from the book quizzes is collated for the class teacher and the senior leadership team (SLT) and can be printed off for report writing and parent consultations.

We are confident that the AR programme is the most comprehensive reading assessment programme available to education and has remarkably achieved that golden balance of both pleasing the pupils and the teachers. I have often compared the 'before and after' of AR between using a torch and a room light. Before using AR, a school can only estimate whether the children are understanding all the books they are reading thereby only getting a vague picture, as if in semi-darkness. But with AR, with every child taking the book quizzes, the lights have been turned on fully and you can see exactly firstly, how much reading the pupils are actually doing and secondly, whether they are genuinely understanding the books they are reading.