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Who knows what Accelerated Reader is? I didn't, until today's ArtsJournal linked me to this story about the "reading management software."

Worst example. A "Gossip Girl" novel is worth more points than "Hamlet." Even someone as ambivalent as I am about Shakespeare knows that's just wrong.

I may have overlooked it, but I'm not sure how many school systems use Accelerated Reader. I'll make a point of asking about it at the upcoming back-to-school night.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Benji's Catholic school has it, although being in preschool he's not using yet. (He's read many books on the list, though.)

The I Like It Like That/Hamlet comparison the author makes is a bit wack -- the former is a level (i.e. grade) 5 book, and the latter is a level 10 book. If we're making silly, levelless comparisons, let's go whole-hog and point out that reading 15 Berenstain Bears easy readers is "better" than Hamlet in the system.

And if someone reads all 25,000 pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, they ought to be rewarded with a dumptruck-full of points. But I don't see why (other than interest in the book) someone would choose that over four books at the same level that are each one-fourth the number of words -- pointwise, you end up the same either way.


Edited by M. Dale Prins

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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It is very common in schools public and private. (In both TX and FL)

AR is not a bad idea, but it is almost always badly utilized. I have found that the points system (while you could certainly take issue with individual pt assignments) is not the primary evil. The problem is that AR's latent message is that reading is only worthwhile if you earn prizes. And when it is used as a central part of a school or classroom's reading curriculum it tends to reward kids who are already good readers, and the slow readers feel more and more penalized. It's like a literary capitalism. There's very little emphasis on reading for the joy of reading. My wife (a third grade teacher) is also critical of the "Testing" becuase it is a poor indicator of reading comprehension, and doesn't come near critical thinking about the content.

Having said all that, I have seen anecdotal evidence of it working well. Some kids really get a boost of motivation from earning points and it moves them toward being REAL readers in a way that other methods have not.

Ultimately, AR is a fine supplement to a reading curriculum. Unfortunately some schools, especially private ones, will make it a central component of their content and even their graded work.

So, from my experience and my wife's expertise, the question to ask is not "Do you use AR?" but "How is it used?" and "Is there other reading curriculum?"

Hope this helps.

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