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Richard Davidian Dr. Jan Rieman English 1103 November 10, 2010
Self-assessment?

All Books, All Quizzes; All Worth It? Moving from school to school can be a trying experience. Changes like that often lead to new standards and procedures. [Abrupt beginning. Can you give more context for this?] When I started to attend a different school system, I was introduced to the Accelerated Reader program. The Accelerated Reader program, used in grades Kindergarten through twelve, is a supplementary reading program in which students select 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 to question 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 the structured literary curriculum. Hopefully my findings in this paper will make it appeal to fellow students, [make what appeal? The AR program itself? It sounds like you are advocating it here] not to mention teachers who want feedback on the program. There are many valuable aspects of using Accelerated Reader. The whole program itself costs anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000 for a whole school, depending on school size and implemented components (WWC 3). [Shorten the title, but son’t abbreviate/. What Works would be fine] It is safe to conclude that for a moderately populated school with an average amount of included program features, the AR program would not be so expensive as a whole.

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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 hugely beneficial. [Just because something is widely used doesn’t mean it’s effective] In fact, based on a study of students in an urban, inner-city setting, students had 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 increased library circulation when the school began using AR” (551). Tenth-grade students in Florida were also 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 participants in the program gaining skills in reading, a crucially positive aspect of the program is clear; it works. 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 would lack some reading skills that I have today had I not taken part in the program. [It may be a great way to start your paper with your own experiences of the AR program] At least I think I am 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 program really works. According to the What Works Clearinghouse, a trusted source of scientific evidence for 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 and

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comprehension for adolescent learners” (5). [What punctuation can you use here to lead into this quote and connect these two sentences?] One may think that just a couple cases of sub-par results cannot prove anything against the bulletproof outcomes of the AR program. After digging a 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 unrealistic, students do not like being forced to read, the book selections are displeasing, [Did you find out how books are chosen for the program?] and course grades are tied to performance on AR quizzes (Thompson 554). Being a student who was forced to take part in the AR program, I can agree. [Since your list of unfortunate effects of the AR program are varied, see if you can intro them in a way that allows for this variety. As you have them now, they seem disjointed or as if they are trying to speak to something you’ve just said but don’t]. Reading to meet a deadline can be unnerving, especially when students have other academic and extracurricular activities. I distinctly remember numerous times when the librarian in middle school would not allow me to check out a certain book because its reading level was not in my “reading zone.” My class grades were sometimes diminished by poor performance on reading quizzes. This type of forced academic literary assignments discouraged me from doing other reading. [Tie these ideas together here] Sara Luck, an elementary school teacher, 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 positive effects on motivation to read, and in two districts, the effects were actually negative (6). That’s right, 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 required to be completed in school, I had

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little motivation left to read books on my own. I was under the impression that my work had already been cut out for me. [Work on coherence in this paragraph] 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 his second language, although he spoke it fluently. Nicholas always accumulated some massive amount of Accelerated Reader points from completing numerous book quizzes. He also read a plethora of books unrelated to the program. His love for reading showed the most positive effect of the AR program. He met the goals that were set, and went beyond. He acquired reading skills far beyond any other students. So how was he so positively impacted by Accelerated Reader? I believe that the answer is that he simply found a love for reading, beyond that which was embedded in him by the school. I am slightly displeased to not be able to conclude this essay with a solid answer to my question based on my compiled research. Does the Accelerated Reader program have a constructive effect on students? I personally do not support the use of it based on my own experiences and the negative sides that come along with it, but that is all biased on my typically lackadaisical teenage personality. It all depends on the students’ attitudes. Those who disagree with the requirements of the program and those who severely lack motivation to read will have no beneficial outcomes of participating in the program. Students who read joyfully and are enthusiastic about the program will likely have flourishing reading skills. Some kids who only run as far as the finish line, such as myself, have few positive outcomes form the program. The Accelerated Reader program works much like a garden; if more seeds are planted, then more crops will grow. If more effort is made to participate in the program, then more literary

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prowess will be acquired. Perhaps what students need in a materialistic world is a more tangible reward than just a grade on a computer screen. A free book, maybe.

Richard, Ah, inconclusive answers. This is often what scholars find when we do research, but we have added to the conversation and eventually the question morphs and new questions arise, we do more research, conduct more studies, and this is how we discover things. I’m really glad that you thought about this question and did this research. The biggest suggestion I have for this paper is for you to pay more attention to development and cohesiveness. Beginning with your intro, work on tying the ides in each paragraph together more solidly. Your writing here seems less carefully crafted than usual and you have a number of sentences that could be phrased more clearly / concisely. So, read aloud and see what you hear. I’m happy to go over this with you if you chose to include it in your portfolio.

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Works Cited

Johnson, Roger A. "The Effects of the Accelerated Reader Program on the Reading Comprehension of Pupils in Grades Three, Four, and Five." Reading Matrix 3.3 (2003): 87-96. www.readingmatrix.com. Web. 4 Nov. 2010. Luck, Sara A. "Accelerated Reader: The Controversy Continues--A Literature Review of the Effectiveness of Accelerated Reader in Increasing Reading Achievement and Student Motivation." Illinois Reading Council Journal 38.2 (2010): 3-9. Web. 5 Oct. 2010. Thompson, Gail, Marga Madhuri, and Deborah Taylor. “How the Accelerated Read Program Can Become Counterproductive for High School Students.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 51.7 (2008): 550-560. Web. 6 Oct. 2010 What Works Clearinghouse, (ED). "Accelerated Reader[TM]. What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report." What Works Clearinghouse (2010): Web. 4 Nov. 2010.

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