Accelerated Reader Program Versus Traditional Reading Programs Term Paper

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¶ … AR vs. Traditional

The Accelerated Reader program has received significant attention in the last few years, as it is reported to have shown great promise for correcting reading deficiencies in most grade levels. The program is a significant boost for some readers, as it offers rewards and excitement for increased reading behaviors and it also has an intrinsic assessment aspect that many educators find useful in understanding the reading levels of students. Yet, it is also a significant allocation for many schools as it requires resources that might not already be in place and has a rather significant price tag on top of that. The program has received positive and negative reviews from users and educators, and requires training and education to use it, that if missing seems to limit its capabilities. Additionally, the program is reported to be most effective as a supplement to traditional reading programs rather than as a stand alone program used for all reading tasks.

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It is for these reasons and many others that there needs to be more research on the effectiveness of the program as a basis for advocating and utilizing it. It must also be noted that the AR and traditional reading programs have been only very limitedly compared, as within the education system the tendency is to throw everything you have at the learner and hope something sticks. This mentality is necessary as most would agree that reading is such a core skill and that no time should be lost at any level, but for the sake of comparative outcomes-based research it makes comparison of one program to another difficult as most students, and especially those who test below grade level will be exposed to as many tools as the educator has at his or her disposal. (Bovair & Kieras, 1991, p. 206) the current trend of outcomes-based research as well as the demonstrative establishment of best practices then runs contrary to the "throw everything at it" mentality as it offers research only a very limited opportunity for the development of a clear understanding of how one tool is "better" than another, when it comes to reading and many other core knowledge bases.

Term Paper on Accelerated Reader Program Versus Traditional Reading Programs Assignment

It is clear that high percentages of below grade level readers in our public school system is a problem that has consequences beyond the ability of the current system to asses. Traditional reading programs have addressed this problem for centuries, and many are significant in their ability to affect reading skills, in both a normal scoring set and a below grade level set, given the appropriate time and application. Some assessments of standard reading programs say they are ineffective because they do not resolve the core problem of desire and motivation to read. The changing climate of educational offerings, increased nontraditional sources of information such as computers and video learning games, video games in general and television have, some would say slanted this generation of potential readers toward a format of learning that is not answered by the traditional hard copy format. "The favorite lament of the public and of some educators is that low reading scores on standardized tests are a result of excessive media use outside the classroom, especially the use of television." (Tyner, 1998, p. 142)

Many argue that the venue of fast paced and extrinsic rewards of video learning and technology pass times has created in this generation, and likely the one that will follow it, a different set of expectations for learning. These expectations do not necessarily favor quietly sitting in a room and reading a book, or even quietly sitting in a room full of peers and being read to. Intrinsic desire to read according to some has gone down significantly over the years as kids have become more exceedingly exposed to the modern brand of instant entertainment available in their own living rooms. Educators and enterprising education program suppliers have in turn attempted to add a whole subset of options for the school consumer that reportedly bridge the gap between the modern information society in which we live and the traditional model of learning core skills, such as reading. One of these so called alternative options, is the much touted Accelerated Reader Program, which will be further explained later in this work.

The federal government, state governments and all the respective school districts have made significant efforts to try to ebb the tide of substandard reading, yet there has yet to be a consistent comprehensive plan that demonstratively increases reading scores, especially among high risk students. (Le Tendre, 1996, p. 109) the new climate of reading instruction, as per the extension of Title I funding to whole schools rather than individual students, as it has been dispersed in the past and the No Child Left Behind legislation which demands accountability and outcome-based change has changed the focus of both instruction and assessment. (Stewart, 2004. p. 732) (Long, 2001, p. 30) (Greenlee & Bruner, 2001, p. 77) ("Helping All Students Succeed," 2001, p. 14)

Just released results from a yearly federal assessment of student achievement reveal that two-thirds of fourth graders read below grade level, that 37% lack basic reading skills, and that the weakest students have fallen further behind. Although reading problems are apparent in the majority of schools, the worst reader is typically a male minority student living in a high-poverty urban area, who watches six hours or more of television a day. ("The Week," 2001, NP)

One of the proposed plans associated with changing this increasing trend is associated with a computerized, interactive reading practice and assessment computer program. The program, called Accelerated Reader is designed for K-12 students and contains 27,000 books at all different levels that the student chooses and reads. The assessments occur after reading and the program offers extrinsic rewards to students that seem to be effective in encouraging further reading practice which effectively supplements reading curriculum. (Cuddeback & Ceprano, 2002, p. 89) ("Taking a Hi-Tech Path," 2005, p. 14)

In comparison the definition of what is known as a "traditional reading program" for the purposed of this paper is a program that is designed to increase phonic awareness and vocabulary as well as further the work of the previous grades (K-1) in teaching the children sentence structure as well as reading order through the means of reading aloud, independently and through supplemental worksheet and blackboard exercises that are applied by the teacher. No formal prepackaged reading program will be used in this assessment as the goal of the research is to determine the comparative effectiveness of traditional vs. AR.

This work will serve first as a review of the measure of effectiveness of both AR and traditional programs through the available literature associated with both, and most importantly in comparison. The work will then propose a research study that will independently test the effectiveness of AR as compared to traditional reading programs to improve the reading scores of sub-grade level readers. The work will focus on a content area, where AR is said to be most effective, i.e. grades 1-4 and compare the scores of those who used AR with those who were offered a traditional reading program with limited supplemental time with a reading specialist during the term. The assessments that will be compared will be scores on a preparation pretest, for the 3rd grade standardized test given to all third graders in this district. The preparation test scores looked at will be in reading alone.

Review of Literature:

In one research article the use of Accelerated Reader was assessed using at-risk students who had been randomly assigned to several summer school programs utilizing AR. The students identified as below grade level through "Subjects who received AR treatment were 12 of 36 students from a rural high-need school who, after completing first grade, did not meet the district DRP benchmark (a score of at least 12) for promotion. " (Cuddeback & Ceprano, 2002, p 89) the findings of the research were limited in size and time but the results indicate a demonstrable increase in reading ability and comprehension. The findings lead the authors to conclude that AR did contribute to children's reading comprehension improvement when utilized in conjunction with other materials and teaching procedures.

AR by itself is very motivating and as with many programs, can be made even more effective when coupled with instructional directives that promote comprehension improvement -- both literal- and higher level. AR does accomplish its goal of giving students more reading practice time and also goes beyond the goal by increasing comprehension knowledge. It is our feeling that AR can be beneficial if teachers are trained on how to use the program correctly and also how to supplement the program to increase higher level thinking skills. (Cuddeback & Ceprano, 2002, p. 89)

The value of the program was proven as it effectively improved the reading scores of these twelve students, over short-term use. The limitations of the study include its size, duration and the fact that… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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