Accelerated Reader Woes - ProTeacher Community


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Accelerated Reader Woes
Old 09-12-2006, 08:27 PM
 
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For the last 3 years we have had MAJOR problems with Accelerated Reader and I am absolutely sick of it!

The first year, we upgraded our system to web-based. It took Reading Renaissance almost a semester from the start of school to get it right!!! That doesn't include all the time during the summer it was "being worked on." As far as I know there was no monetary compensation made for that goof. My low readers made less than adequate progress that year, despite putting other activities (i.e. book talks, etc) in place.

Last year, it took over a month and a half from the start of school to get the darned program up and running.

This year, we upgraded again - during the summer - and THEY STILL DON'T HAVE IT WORKING!!! Their mistake this time is absolutely inexcusable. Sales sold us a district-wide package, the implementation division continued to serve us with our school-based packages!! Our tech director kept telling them all summer that things didn't look right - it looked like the original stuff, but they kept insisting all was well.

After being an absolute nag and rag (our tech director is 7 months pregnant, and you don't want to mess with her right now!) they finally went, "Oh, we installed the wrong program." Augh!! How long to fix it NOW????

I have the low reading class and this equates to reading suicide! How I wish there were a comparable company out there with Lexile levels. Competition is the ONLY way to make these mega-companies do their job! Thanks for the vent!


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AR/STAR trouble
Old 09-13-2006, 03:59 PM
 
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We, too are having trouble with the program. I think it's a tech problem w/in the district, but getting the techies to come is almost impossible. We have a computer tech lab school so they get all the attention.

We rely on this program too much for it to be unreliable. I feel your pain. I get so frustrated when things don't work, but worse, don't get fixed in a timely manner.
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Have you looked at
Old 09-13-2006, 05:29 PM
 
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Reading Counts? We heard a presentation from the rep not too long ago. They insist their program is actually better - especially as far as the diagnostic testing part. It's a Scholastic Program. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet but hope to soon.
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Reading Counts
Old 09-13-2006, 07:06 PM
 
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Thanks, Kirsten, for the heads up. I'll pass it on to our district tech and see if she's heard of it.
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I don't see the problem
Old 09-13-2006, 07:55 PM
 
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AR is not an instructional tool so how could your readers be falling behind? Students should be taught using books at their own level. AR doesn't ask any high level thinking questions.

I personally do not use it in my classroom, but I did do a research project on this program and my own children's schools use this. I would rejoice if it were not up and running! I think this one program has done more to make kids hate reading than any other out there.

Maybe if you embrace this lack of computerized testing you may find that you like it. I hope it all works out for you.


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Old 09-14-2006, 08:22 PM
 
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You're right, AR is NOT an instructional tool. However, it IS a useful tool to facilitate practice reading at a student's level. My readers were not necessarily "falling behind," but they were not getting the practice reading in they would have if starting the year with the program. That semester was quite difficult as their routine had been interrupted.

I have been teaching for over 30 years, and have had the opportunity to embrace "this lack of computerized testing." The proficient readers will read; the reluctant readers were my biggest concern. Home reading logs were either not filled out or falsified by students and/or parents. Individual student activities/projects were fine, but interest was lost after a while. For about 5 years, I used paraprofessionals and volunteers in the classroom to assist with book talks during my literature circles - it was a wonderful time and one I'd go back to if I could. However, funds were cut (there goes my para time), steady volunteers were increasingly difficult to find. I needed some kind of comprehension check until meeting individually with each student.

Teaching students to find books at their own level is a lofty goal, and one that I continually try to instill in my students. But until that time arrives for a student, an alternative method is useful. A student goes into a library, especially a reluctant reader, and sees all these thousands of books; many have a hard time narrowing the choices. With a "reading range," students are able to use their time more efficiently.

In my situation, I have not found AR to be the cause of children hating reading. (Quite the opposite, actually.) If that is the case, perhaps it is the implementation of the program that needs to be investigated.

I agree, AR does have its faults. It does not use higher level thinking questions. For the most part, I can usually fill that gap during my meeting with the student. AR does not use Lexile numbers, which would be preferable in our district's situation. It lacks a true research-based foundation. I do not use all the components - it gets too cumbersome. It is not everything I would like to see in a program, but until something better is developed (our district tech director has been looking), I will use it and tweak it to fit my situation.
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Old 09-15-2006, 06:00 AM
 
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Quote:
I think this one program has done more to make kids hate reading than any other out there.
That's because so many schools try to use the program without any training or use it as the only reading program. It's NOT a reading program for teaching reading, but for practicing reading. Teachers who don't understand how to use the program can cause all kinds of problems.
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Reading and Math
Old 09-15-2006, 08:32 AM
 
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I hate this program without even using it. We go it just as the school year started. We had a one day crash course on it and now what???
I teach first grade and think this isn't going to work. How can they bubble their worksheets ???They can't take the reading test yet because they don't have the vocab. Yet my principal wants us all to use it since they paid for it. I thought it was me.
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AR and math
Old 09-16-2006, 08:06 AM
 
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I can't speak about the math as I haven't done any training in that area. Also, I've not used it below 4th grade, so I'm not sure if I can address your concerns. I would suggest, though, that you go to further workshops for if at all possible. When our district went with AR because of a state-wide implementation, the first workshop was overwhelming. I took it again a few months later at another site, and then the following summer went to the Advanced Accelerated Reader workshop. Both times I went armed with questions and concerns. Thank goodness the presenters were as patient as they were! There are some aspects of program, such as goal certification, of which I have no need as I have made other adaptions, but I did try it before discarding. Do you have colleagues with which to problem solve? I hope you have successes, however small, as you learn the ropes.
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Book Adventure
Old 09-17-2006, 03:28 PM
 
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Check out Book Adventure. It is similar to AR, but it is free.
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Old 09-17-2006, 11:08 PM
 
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Somehow our tech guy managed to wipe out all the tests. He got the ones we bought in recent years reinstalled, but is having difficulty with the olderones on the little square "floppys". I understand how you feel.

At least one of you got a one day crash course. that's more than many schools get. The program causes damage when used incorrectly and the school does not have enough books.
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Guys, I have to smile
Old 09-22-2006, 04:42 PM
 
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as I read all this angst, because this just really reinforces what I've believed and said all along about reading programs--we don't need them! I'm so glad I work in a school which actually lets me teach reading. I don't need a computer or software to do it (and what an odd concept that is, when you think about reading and how it's done and what it is--how funny to need a computer for this). We just use good old-fashioned books which we actually just read and discuss and answer a few questions on, but never take a test. And the questions we answer are the questions we form, ourselves. All kids choose within their level, and form book groups and I don't know, we READ. How archaic is that? No tests on a computer, no forms....I use my own common sense to level a book, and can do so more accurately than lexile OR AR and in only a few moments. So I have kids excited about books, talking in groups about books, choosing books from a far wider array and nary a computer test or form to be seen (except for mandated assessments). I feel so lucky to be where I am and just able to READ with kids. Reading programs (and writing programs too) just need to go away.
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:01 AM
 
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I suggest Reading Counts by Scholastic. We use it in our district and it is great. We base it more as an incentive program. 150 points in 5th grade earns you a sleepover at school in May. Each grade has different points/levels and as they reach a level they earn a prize.
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