Accelerated Reading Tests: How Do They Work?

Accelerated Reader is a reading program in which students read grade level-appropriate books, take quizzes on the content and win prizes. The following article explains how the tests work and what you can do at home to encourage your child to read.

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How Accelerated Reader Tests Work

Overview of Accelerated Reader

Accelerated Reader (AR) is designed to get children motivated to read more. As a supplement to a reading program, AR enhances children's reading abilities and enriches their reading experiences and comprehension.

At the beginning of the school year, students are given a vocabulary test which can be used to identify their reading level. The test measures the level of difficulty of words that students can independently comprehend. The teacher uses this information to determine a reading range for each student.

Students select a book in their reading range, read it at their own pace and then take an independent comprehension test on the computer. Each book is worth a certain number of points based on its length and reading level.

Students get a percentage of these points based on how many of the test questions they answer correctly. The program tracks their progress over the course of the school year.

Accelerated Reader Tests

The goal of the AR program is for students to score at 85% or above on the tests. Scoring lower may indicate that the material is too difficult, and the student should select a book at the lower end of his/her reading level. A student who scores at 95% or above should select a book at the upper end of his or her reading range. If students are already reading at the top of their reading range and are consistently scoring above 95% their reading range should be adjusted.

Ideally an AR test should be taken within 24 hours of the time the student finishes reading the book. The questions are designed to verify that the student has read the book, so the questions are directed more to details of the story's elements. Teachers usually have a designated AR time in their class schedule that allows students to take AR tests in the classroom.

How to Encourage Reading at Home

According to the National Network for Child Care (NNCC), a child's first reading teacher, and most influential, is his or her parents. Here are some ways you can encourage your child to read at home:

1. Read aloud to your child. Children enjoy hearing stories and talking about them long after they can read for themselves. Reading aloud also helps children connect words and phrases.

2. Find good books to read. Encourage your child to read within his or her reading range. You can check books out of the school or public library.

3. Make a time and place for reading. It shouldn't be too hard to find some time every day to read. Many parents find that bedtime is ideal.

4. Set an example. Children copy what they see. When a parent turns off the TV and reads a newspaper, a magazine, or a book, the child learns that reading is important.

5. Help children become active readers. As you read together, share ideas and ask questions: What do you think will happen next? As children get older, ask questions about what they read on their own. When they tell you the story, they learn to organize and remember the information.

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