Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Just my opinion, but…I hate AR (Accelerated Reader) March 9, 2012

Filed under: independent reading — bestbookihavenotread @ 7:33 pm
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This is just my opinion, but…I absolutely hate AR (Accelerated Reader)–always have, always will. At least I’m consistent and most people have had to hear me talk about this subject at nauseum. I’m bringing it back up again and here’s why. The past several weeks I have had conversations with one of my own children that have pained me greatly. I’ve managed to bite my tongue with the child, but on a personal and professional level, it was extremely difficult and I can’t keep quiet any longer. I have the research to back up my professional and personal beliefs, as well as personal experience.

I should give you the background that last quarter I took a hands-off approach to my child taking AR tests and he got 50 out of 200 possible points for the quarter–not a stellar result.

I am a fan of reading logs that go back and forth between home and school where students record how long they’ve read and how many pages. You can really learn a lot, both as a reader (or as a prying parent) by looking at how much they accomplish in a home setting compared to a school setting. You won’t always learn the same thing-some kids are consistent between home and school, some will spend 20 minutes “reading” at either home or school and only get 2 pages “read”, while accomplishing 12 at the opposite location. That tells me that at the 2 page location, the student is really distracted or just pretending to read.

I am also a fan of having individual reading conferences with students based on their independent reading and reading log. Not everyday mind you, no teacher is Superwoman, but on a regular basis which becomes even more frequent with reluctant or struggling readers.

So I’ve been riding herd daily on my child about their home reading, ensuring that they take the same independent reading book back and forth between home and school. We read with the child as a model in the same room, we listen to books on tape in the car, we have Kindles, bookshelves full of books, we have conversations about books compared to other books, books to life, etc.

I thought that I had dealt with the issue for this quarter, but based on these conversations, I have not. Here is a sample:

“Mom, I need to read a 11 point book so I have enough points for the quarter. I’m going to search 11 point books on the internet and see what I can pick from.”

“Mom, I need to check the name of a (certain minor) character in my book. The name of a character is the kind of question I am sure to be asked on an AR quiz.”

“Mom, do you know any 7 point books that I can read? Maybe I can buy one on the Kindle.”

me-What about that new series you were so excited to read and you started over the weekend? Child-“Well that doesn’t have enough points so I’m not going to be able to read that AND another book to have enough points for the quarter.”

“Mom, I know I picked out a book to read, but since it’s worth 14 points, I’m going to save it for next quarter because it gets me almost all my points for the whole quarter.”

Never once does said child talk about genre, reading interests, series, or any of the things I consider important and necessary. I’m worried about said child’s reading stamina, their love of reading (or more like their lack thereof), their exposure to multiple genres, some of which should include non-fiction.

In no way do I feel that the 10 AR questions said child is going to have to answer about any given book a good reflection of their comprehension. Nor do I feel that reading for points, pizza (Pizza Hut Book-it–hate it), or any other reward is necessary. Not that I’m above an old-fashioned bribe now and then, but for something so essential to success as an adult, no.


8 Responses to “Just my opinion, but…I hate AR (Accelerated Reader)”

  1. Laura Says:


  2. Holly Michael Says:

    I have a major issue with AR as well. Our younger daughter reads at the 11.9 level in fifth grade. Although it is wonderful that she is such a good reader, it makes it a challenge to choose books. Her teacher wants her to read books no lower than a level 6.0. Unfortunately, many wonderful books with content that appeals to fifth graders are below a level six. It is very frustrating!

  3. Peg D Says:

    Totally agree! The first thing I told teachers when the boys started their class was we were not doing the pizza thing and we would write the 20 minutes on the “please verify your child read 20 minutes at home” paper, but we actually read much more. I said we would not play that game. Our boys read because they love it and I was never going to add extrinsic rewards for that which already gave them intrinsic rewards. And knowing library funds that could be spent on actual books is spent on the stupid AR test disks. Not every Harry Potter book is on one disk they are spread out. Hate AR. And parents just fill in the titles of books on book it. Only ten in the younger grades even though more spaces are available– like making sure your child reads or hears more is just too hard.
    You are not alone. 🙂

  4. Drake Says:

    I am 14 years old. I used to love reading, I read Tom Clancy, westerns, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, etc. All big thick good books. However, after being introduced to AR 4 years ago, I don’t read much anymore. Neither do less gifted people than me. I was blessed with an incredible mind for reading, algebra, science, sports, whatever. But I hate reading for points so I decided not to. I was threatened and told I didn’t have a choice. So I told them no and I still do. So please, fuck off Renaissance “Learning.”

  5. SOSA Says:


  6. floralgenius Says:

    Ah, so glad to have found some like-minded people! I HATE AR and have no problem telling our principal and teachers exactly how I feel about it! My 10-year-old is reading at the 12.9 level and my 8th grader is off the charts. There are no books or tests at our school past a 7.0 level. WTF!? Since my kids are required to take one AR test a month as part of their grade, they are forced to read books that are not interesting to them and they hate it, too! I considered sending them to the local private school, but they enforce AR, too!!! No way am I PAYING for that crap!!

  7. Vicky Says:

    I completely agree! I think AR has in fact turned my kids away from reading. My son used to read all the time for enjoyment. Christmas, Easter and birthdays he wanted books. Until they started AR and it was turned into this rule oriented you can’t read this and you must get this number of points. By high school he was barely reading, it was only to get his AR

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