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Accelerated Reader

What is Accelerated Reader?

Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians to manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his or her own level and reads it at his or her own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read. AR gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.

Children using AR choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that interest them. Teachers and librarians help your child choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating, ensuring that your child can pass the quiz and experience success.
Adapted from “Parent’s Guide to Accelerated Reader,” Renaissance Learning


How is AR tailored to my child?

Teachers and Librarians will determine your child’s reading level using the STAR Reading test, one of the standardized assessments that students participate in three times per year at Odyssey. STAR Reading is a computerized reading assessment that uses computer-adaptive technology. With this technology, questions continually adjust to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level is increased. If the child misses a question, the difficulty level is reduced.

After STAR Testing is completed, students are given a Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) that will help them to select appropriately challenging books from the school library. A child’s ZPD is the range of books that will challenge him or her without causing frustration or loss of motivation. A third grade student, for example, may have a ZPD range of 2.6-3.6. A second third grade student may have a different ZPD range of 2.8-4.0, depending on how each child performs on the STAR Test.

ZPD Ranges correspond to color coordinated labels, which have been placed on all library books at the Odyssey. Students will go to the library once per week to check-out books. During this time, students will be allowed to check-out two books: one within their ZPD and one book for interest. Students can also choose to check out two books within their ZPD. Each AR book is assigned a point value, based on its complexity, the number of words and difficulty level. Once a student has read a book within the assigned ZPD, he or she will then take the appropriate computerized AR comprehension test to earn points.


My child’s ZPD range is different than last year. Why?

Your child’s ZPD may have changed for a number of reasons. The first reason that your child’s ZPD range may have changed is that he/she has gained additional skills and comprehension strategies in reading. In this case, your child’s ZPD may have increased to reflect additional skills and to be appropriately challenging for him or her. If you have noticed that your child’s ZPD range is narrower than last year, for example going from an 5.0-11.0 to 5.0 to 8.3, this can be explained by a change in the Accelerated Reader Program itself. The ZPD numbers roughly correspond to grade-level—meaning that an 11.0 difficulty is typically an 11th grade book. In this case, AR has decided to narrow students’ ZPD ranges to reflect developmentally appropriate book choices for elementary and middle school students.


Goal Setting Model

This year, AR at Odyssey Charter School is set-up as a “Goal Setting” model. This is different than the incentive-based model that students participated in during the 2013-2014 school year. With the new “Goal Setting” model, students will be given an individualized goal that is based on their independent reading level and amount of independent reading practice. Goals are written in terms of “number of points” per marking period. To earn prizes or qualify for AR parties, students must earn 100% of their goal. They must also have 85% average correct on their AR quizzes. For example, if a child’s goal is 10 points, he or she must have 85% correct across all tests to qualify for prizes. Students will not be “cashing out” for AR prizes like they did last year.

In addition to the prizes and parties, any student who earns more than 100% of their goal each marking period will have their name entered into a raffle for a Kindle Fire HD. The raffle will be held during the last week of school, with the winner announced by Dr. Manolakos. Two Kindle Fire HDs will be raffled off—one for the lower school and one for the upper school.

Finally, prizes will be given to the top scoring readers in each grade-level. The student in each grade-level who earns the greatest cumulative number of points will be given a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble Bookstore. If one of the top scoring readers is chosen for the Kindle raffle, the gift card award will be given to the second highest points value reader in that grade-level.

For additional resources about the Accelerated Reader program, check out the Renaissance Learning website at

You can also contact Jennifer Leitner, Accelerated Reader Chair, at Odyssey Charter School with any questions.

Special thanks to the Odyssey Charter School PTO for sponsoring prizes and parties for the Accelerated Reader Program!

AR Parent Newsletter