Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Accelerated Reading Program

Earlier today I came across an article from a teacher's point of view about the Google funded accelerated reading program and the effect that it is having on students and libraries and general interest in books by youth.  Jen Marten's stance was against the accelerated reading program saying that it is segregating students based on reading level and locking them into that level in a way that it is becoming detrimental.  Some examples that she cited were children being forced to carry reading level cards and show it at the library, being only able to check out books within their reading level (which is tested for).  Also of teachers receiving reprimand for having books in their classroom that did not fit into the level of the students.  She also goes on to say that the money could have been better spent in actually purchasing books and funding libraries, librarians and book exchange programs, which is always a great idea in my opinion.  I feel very passionately about reading and about my son's interest in reading here is what I had to say:

Admittedly I am not completely up to speed on the Accelerated Reader program, but I am horrified of what I do know about it. Why are we trying to squelch the thirst for knowledge??? I read all kinds of book that may have been "above" or "below" my level, but I learned so much about myself, about life, about the world around me! Volumes of knowledge that a small town Montana girl might not have otherwise learned away from big city life or the travel to countries around the world. Reading something that interests us is such a BIG deal in SO much of the development of our minds and brains no matter what age! I am sad at anyone who does not find reading enjoyable because that have experienced something that sapped the joy out of it for them, something like a stupid forced leveling program. It is easy to gauge your own progress, if you can't read it try a little lower level but no one should be bound within those constraints. I hope no one EVER takes the joy of reading from my son, or they will know my wrath!

I got another take on it from a friend with a school age son: "Yep, is called AR and they do testing on the books they read, too. The more AR points they get, the higher their level and they get prizes at Ian's school. My son actually does really well with it, but I'm sure it'd like anything else education related where something might work great for one kid and not another. At school, he chooses books that are his level. At home, though, his bookcase has a huge variety and he can choose whatever he wants. It's one of those things where you can't fully leave it in the school's hands."  "
Though, my son is still very young and his reading level is low. I'm sure the challenge will be greater as he gets older and books get more difficult and longer and the time he has to invest in a book gets more significant."

She brought up a great point that parents need to take more responsibility and not rely on the school to do everything in the learning of their children so I said:
I agree with you that you need to provide them with books at home! Liam and I read at least 1 book a day but usually 3 (of course we are talking toddler size) but Liam LOVES reading (and licking various objects on the pages haha). I prefer the Book It! Where you got points per pages! So the level was more flexible! Except that I remember getting banned from anymore points. I seriously won soo many personal pan pizza I got sick of them.
I was picturing more of a middle school and up age, when kids really start to get labeled, separated and embarrassed by different knowledge levels. If you are higher or lower you are abnormal at school 

This brought up more about labeling from another friend with school age children:
"My son is in third grade and they get "labeled" now. I feel horrible for the kids that are struggling and are not encouraged to read. I'm fortunate to have a book worm. As a result, he has strong writing and grammar skills."

So I guess the key to combating as many negative effects of AR (Accelerated Reading) is to do what you can as a parent to instill a love of books in your children at an early age.  Books are a staple in my house and that will not change.  I wish I had more time to read "mommy" books as opposed to the majority of the time just getting into Liam books.  But I share a love of reading with my father and I love being able to talk about a book together and to trade books and discover new topics and authors and stories together.  I sincerely hope that I can share that with my son as well when he gets a little older!  

What is your take on the accelerated reading program?

If you would like to read the original article it can be found here:
Dear Google, You Should Have Talked to Me First  

Liam in a book nook
Reading at the library



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