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Second Draft; Comments From the Professor

Second Draft; Comments From the Professor

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Published by Richard Davidian

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Published by: Richard Davidian on Dec 05, 2010
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Davidian 1
Richard DavidianDr. Jan RiemanEnglish 1103 November 10, 2010All Books, All Quizzes; All Worth It?Moving from school to school can be a trying experience. Changes like that often lead tonew standards and procedures. When I started to attend a different school system, I wasintroduced to the
Accelerated Reader
program. The Accelerated Reader program, used ingrades Kindergarten through twelve, is a supplementary reading program in which studentsselect a book to read and then take a computerized quiz on the book. The purpose is to monitor how well students are advancing in their reading skills (What Works Clearinghouse 1). Looking back at all of the books, quizzes, and time put into meet requirements of the program, I began toquestion its effectiveness. Is implementing the
Accelerated Reader
program a wise course of action for schools to take? This can be deduced by taking a look at the pros and cons of thestructured literary curriculum. Hopefully my findings in this paper will make it appeal to fellowstudents, not to mention teachers who want feedback on the program.There are many valuable aspects of using
Accelerated Reader.
The whole programitself costs anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 for a whole school, depending on school sizeand implemented components (WWC 3). It is safe to conclude that for a moderately populatedschool with an average amount of included program features, the AR program would not be soexpensive as a whole. Roger Johnson, a distinguished author who holds a Ph.D in psychology,wrote that approximately one out of every three school in the United States has adopted the program (88). Considering that statistic, it is hard to ignore the possibility of the program being
 
Davidian 2
hugely beneficial. In fact, based on a study of students in an urban, inner-city setting, studentshad gains in reading skill from .73 to 2.24 years on the
Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test
(91). Gail Thompson et al., professors who teach at a university in California, also have tales of success. “In a study at a private K-8 Catholic school in Brooklyn, the librarian noticed increasedlibrary circulation when the school began using AR” (551). Tenth-grade students in Florida werealso documented to have positive results from AR. Their grades on reading portions of standardized tests increased by 4% to 7% (552). Obviously, with clear evidence of participantsin the program gaining skills in reading, a crucially positive aspect of the program is clear; itworks. It does what it is designed to do, which is to track and improve the reading levels of students, and in some cases motivate students to read more recreationally. I vividly remember feeling accomplished after completing a book and its corresponding quiz. I’m sure that I wouldlack some reading skills that I have today had I not taken part in the program. At least I think Iam sure.According to the logic I have developed in my eighteen years of worldly experience,having success in ‘some cases’ is not adequate. That is why this section of negative outcomes of the AR program may have a little more gravity. Not all studies have shown that the AR programreally works. According to the What Works Clearinghouse, a trusted source of scientific evidencefor what works in education, there were two eligible studies that met evidential standards.Based on the two studies, the WWC found no discernible effects in reading fluency andcomprehension for adolescent learners” (5). One may think that just a couple cases of sub-par results cannot prove anything against the bulletproof outcomes of the AR program. After digginga little deeper, I found that there are many less-than-satisfactory features on the program.Participants in focus groups had four major complaints. The amount of reading required is
 
Davidian 3
unrealistic, students do not like being forced to read, the book selections are displeasing, andcourse grades are tied to performance on AR quizzes (Thompson 554). Being a student who wasforced to take part in the AR program, I can agree. Reading to meet a deadline can be unnerving,especially when students have other academic and extracurricular activities. I distinctlyremember numerous times when the librarian in middle school would not allow me to check outa certain book because its reading level was not in my “reading zone.” My class grades weresometimes diminished by poor performance on reading quizzes. This type of forced academicliterary assignments discouraged me from doing other reading. Sara Luck, an elementary schoolteacher, evaluated ten different studies of middle schools across three districts regarding the AR  program. The studies assessed the effect that
Accelerated Reader
has on the amount of recreational reading that students do. It was observed that the program did not hold any positiveeffects on motivation to read, and in two districts, the effects were actually negative (6). That’sright, some students had much less willingness to read recreationally as they were using the AR  program. From experience, I can vouch for this result. After all of the readings that were requiredto be completed in school, I had little motivation left to read books on my own. I was under theimpression that my work had already been cut out for me.I will bring into focus one example from my personal life. Throughout the time I was a part of the AR program, I was friends with a boy named Nicholas Salvador. English was hissecond language, although he spoke it fluently. Nicholas always accumulated some massiveamount of 
Accelerated Reader
points from completing numerous book quizzes. He also reada plethora of books unrelated to the program. His love for reading showed the most positiveeffect of the AR program. He met the goals that were set, and went beyond. He acquired readingskills far beyond any other students. So how was he so positively impacted by
Accelerated

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