School Library

Accelerated Reading Program

Aug 27, 2013 | Katie Buck

Accelerated Reader

This week in the library, your students will be learning all about the Accelerated Reader program and what it requires of them.  Here’s an overview:


In short, AR helps our students become better readers by encouraging them to read.  The process is as follows:

  1. Read a book
  2. Take a short quiz
  3. Earn points


Each book in the AR program is assigned a book level.  The first number represents the grade and the second represents the month, so a 3.5 book could be read by a typical student in the fifth month of the third-grade year.  


The zone of proximal development is the ‘sweet spot’ where a student is challenged but not frustrated by a book.  This is the range where our students should focus their independent reading in order to obtain maximum growth.  It’s not necessary that all of their independent reading be in this range, but it is something to keep in mind when choosing books.

In our library, the picture books are marked with colored stickers on their spine that correspond to their reading level.

  • Red – 1st grade
  • Yellow – 2nd grade
  • Blue – 3rd grade
  • Orange – 4th grade and beyond

This can help students choose an appropriately difficult book at a glance.  Books above a fourth-grade reading level are not marked on the outside of the book, but they do have the reading level listed on a sticker right inside the front cover.

One interesting thing about ZPD’s is that they are narrower as we learn to read and wider as we become more fluent.  For example, the ZPD for a typical second grader is 2.3–3.3.  The ZPD for a typical seventh grader is 4.4–7.5.


In AR, each book is assigned a point value, which is reflective of the amount of time it takes to read the book.  In general, shorter books are worth fewer points and longer books are worth more, but the algorithm takes into account both the length and the difficulty of the book.  Of course, students also have to pass the quizzes in order to earn the points; this ensures that they understood the book and trains them to read purposefully. 


The quizzes are 5-, 10-, or 20-questions long, depending on the length and difficulty of the book, and ask questions about what happened in the book.  The idea is to make sure that the student read the book and understood it, not to make broader connections or insights.  Nonetheless, the questions can be very specific.  An average score of 85-90% correct on the quizzes is a good goal for most students.

Please see me if your book does not have a quiz!  AR has thousands of books in the program, but sometimes students read books that are not.  I can either write a quiz for the book or make other arrangements so that you still get credit for reading the book.


Each student in 2nd through 8th grade has an individual point goal each quarter.  The goal is different for each student and is based on 15–25 minutes of daily reading; students may take quizzes over books read independently, books read together with a parent or sibling, and books read aloud to them.  They may also take quizzes over books read or assigned in class.

Instead of having a quarterly point goal, first graders are challenged to take one AR quiz each week.  Mrs. Hannon and Mrs. Nell will award casual passes every month for students who have met this goal.  First graders will be included in my quarterly parties, which reward the top 5 point-earners in each grade level. 


For some grade levels, AR is tied in to the students’ reading or literature grade.  If that’s the case, information about grades will come from the students’ teachers.   All students who meet their quarterly goal will be rewarded with a casual day pass.   I will ALSO be hosting a party at the end of each quarter for the top 5 point earners in each grade.  The themes of the parties vary, but they always take place during lunch or drop-off so that they don’t interfere with instructional time.


You should have received a handout about the home connect website.  This site is designed to be used by parents and students together, and allows parents to see what their children are reading and how they are progressing toward reading goals.  The username and password are the same that your child uses to take quizzes at school.  With a few exceptions, the format for the username is “first name-period-last initial” (e.g., skippyjon.j).  Passwords for students in grades 1-3 are “shamrock.”  Students in grade 4 and up create their own password.


The books in the St. Malachy library are labeled for AR, but a book does not have to come from our library for students to use it for the program.  You can easily find reading levels and point values for all of the books included in the program by searching this website.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Mrs. Buck