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Students Reach Goals Through Reading Program

 

Accelerated Reader Program

Each morning, students eagerly file into the Bon Air computer lab and adjoining library to take a computerized reading comprehension quiz and then select a new book to read as part of the Accelerated Reader program.

The AR program is used by teachers as enrichment for the reading foundation they are providing in the classroom. “Being able to read the books, take a comprehension quiz, and get immediate feedback motivates our students to continue to read and build up their reading comprehension. It also provides the classroom teachers and support teachers with valuable data about student progress,” says Melanie Kauffman, the AR Coordinator.

AR has been used in Burrell’s elementary schools for the past 19 years, coordinated by Bette Fisher before her retirement and implemented by parent volunteers. Volunteers Stephanie Dynka and Laura Fisher oversee the day-to-day operation of the AR lab at Bon Air, while Jennifer Ciesielski is stationed at Stewart Elementary School.  Each morning, four volunteers help the students log into the computers, access the appropriate quizzes and record the quiz scores. The volunteers also help the students select books that are appropriate for their reading level. The classroom teachers provide a target reading level for each student, but volunteers also take into account previous quiz scores when helping students select new books.  As the chairperson of the PTA’s Accelerated Reader Committee and as a parent, Ms. Dynka has seen the benefits of AR first hand. “I am passionate about this program because I’ve seen in my own children how it increases their reading ability and strengthens their skills,” she says.

AR is a fun way to practice reading without a grade attached. Instead, children read for incentives. “Each book for AR is assigned a point value based on the reading level of the book. Students earn points based on the score they get on the test,” Ms. Kauffman says. She sets a point value for each nine-week period for first-, second- and third-graders.  Students achieving and surpassing this point level are invited to an incentive activity, coordinated by Laura Fisher.

Because many kindergarten students do not start AR until the second semester, they have individual incentives, earning small awards as they meet their benchmarks throughout the year. As a class, they will work toward an end-of-the-year point goal, and the entire class is invited to the incentive activity if they combine to meet that goal.  While special activities and awards encourage students to read, the real reward is the skills the students are strengthening through the AR program. “AR is not a competition to see who can get the most points, it is a way for us to help encourage students to grow as individual readers,” Ms. Kauffman says.

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