The Renaissance Reading Programme
Discovering Students’ Reading Ages – STAR Reading
Every student in year groups 7 and 8 take part in the Renaissance Reading Programme. The first stage of the programme is to discover a student’s reading age, and how this compares nationally with others of a similar age. For this we use the STAR Reading program, which is a computer-adaptive cloud-based assessment; this means that the online program adapts its questioning to student responses, thereby catering for all abilities.
Reading ages are recorded in years and months. Ideally, this should be at or above a student’s actual chronological age. Remember – students reading ages vary widely. If a student is reading at a level below their chronological age, do not be discouraged. Remember that reading ages can improve dramatically over the course of a year – sometimes by several years – if a student is committed to practising their reading every day.
The program then calculates an individual ZPD – or ‘Zone of Proximal Development’ – which is the range of difficulty level of books a student should read to allow for independent reading. Books within the LRC are graded according to their level of difficulty and are colour coded.
Reading skills develop most effectively when students read appropriately challenging books – books which are sufficiently challenging to keep them engaged, but are not too difficult that they become frustrated. For example, Tess has a reading age of 10 years and 7 months. The program advises that her Zone of Proximal Development is between 3.8 - 5.8. Tess can choose from yellow, blue and red banded books.
If I used the above link to search for The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson, I would find the ATOS book level to be 5, placing it just within the blue band. In a scenario where a student was asked to pick for example – books within the green and yellow band – I could use my discretion in allowing that student to read this novel, as reading the occasional book which falls outside a student’s ZPD would be permissible. However, if a student were to read too many books below their ZPD, they would be unlikely to improve their reading age. Students with reading ages above their chronological age should challenge themselves in their choice of books.
Finding out how well students have understood the books they have read – Accelerated Reader
Accelerated Reader is a guided independent reading programme which inspires students to read for pleasure. After each book read, a fun, multiple choice online quiz is taken where students can demonstrate their understanding of the material they have read. They receive immediate feedback which in turn, motivates them to make progress with their reading skills.
With every quiz passed, a student is awarded points. If a book is worth ten points for example, a pass score of six out of ten will earn six points. Points from each quiz passed, go towards students’ individual points targets. The number of AR points a book has, is calculated by looking at the difficulty of the book (ATOS readability level) and the length of the book (number of words). As such, those students with lower reading ages will, similarly, have lower points targets. Lower ability students, therefore, are not disadvantaged.
Teachers and the LRC Manager have access to many diagnostic tools which help them to ascertain whether a student is making good progress. Each quiz taken on a book is recorded, in addition to the ATOS level of a book, the score achieved, any points earned and progress towards a target. If a student is reading insufficiently challenging books, i.e. books which are too easy, this will not assist in improving their reading age. Similarly, if books chosen are too difficult to be read independently, this will discourage a student from completing a book they have chosen. If students take an insufficient number of quizzes, this could indicate they have not read for enough time to complete a book, an exception being where a student regularly reads books with a high word count. If a student consistently has low scores, a conclusion may be drawn that they have either not properly read a book or did not sufficiently understand the book. Teachers and the LRC Manager will discuss with students any concerns they have, whether it be that a student chooses inappropriate books to facilitate growth or does not regularly practise reading. Low quiz scores may also indicate that a student has attempted to quiz on a book they have not completed. We will endeavour to match students not only with appropriate books, but with books they will gain pleasure from reading.
Reading is the most valuable activity students can take part in whilst at the academy. Countless studies have shown that reading for pleasure is the most important factor in determining a child’s future exam and career success, regardless of their family background. Reading practice and improvement can lead to improved grades in all subjects. It is vitally important to give students a chance to read. Daily reading is expected from year groups 7 and 8, at home, every evening, as part of their homework timetable.
How can parents take an active role in Renaissance Learning?
Renaissance Home Connect is a tool which allows teacher, parent and student to share information about a student’s progress in Accelerated Reader.
Your child’s class teacher will provide a web address for Renaissance Home Connect. The login and password are the same as your child uses to log in to Renaissance at school.
You will be able to view all of the book quizzes your child has completed and view their progress towards reading targets. There is a handy link to AR BookFinder UK, and you can sign up to receive emails about your child’s recent AR Reading Practice Quiz results.
Follow the link below to find a Parent’s Guide to Renaissance Home Connect.
You will also receive a Parent Report informing you of your child’s latest STAR Reading test results. This will provide you with your child’s reading age and suggestions as to how to improve their reading.