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The Reading Assessment

The STAR Reading Test

The first step in the Renaissance Learning Accelerated Reader (AR) Program is to take the STAR (Standardized Test for the Assessment of Reading) Assessment. This will show us what your child already knows.  These assessments are heavily researched and scientifically proven to help teachers guide each student on his or her unique path to reading mastery. They are used in over 40,000 schools worldwide.

The tests are computer adaptive. That is, they adjust to each answer. The questions get more difficult or easier depending on the previous answers.

The STAR report shows what the student already knows and what they need to learn next. They are taken periodically to measure student growth and to help keep the student’s learning on track.

The STAR assessments assess reading comprehension and skills for independent readers through grade 12.

STAR Reading tracks development in five domains: Word Knowledge and Skills, Comprehension Strategies and Constructing Meaning, Analyzing Literary Text, Understanding Author’s Craft, Analyzing Argument and Evaluating Text

The test is a series of 34 fill-in-the-blank questions that ask students to select appropriate vocabulary words to complete a sentence.

The test results are used to place students into the Accelerated Reader program.

What Information Does the STAR Reading Test Show Us?

1)     What grade level your child is reading around ( The Grade Equivalent Score or GE). The grade equivalent score describes a student’s reading level in terms of the grade level and month the student is functioning at. For example, a GE of 2.2 means reading at the level of an average child in the second month after starting grade 2.

2)     What level books your child should be reading; this level is called the ZPD Level.

 

The Reading Program

The Accelerated Reader Reading Program

Choose Books at the Optimum Level

Whenever we practice a skill, we will get the most from our efforts if we work at the right level. The same principle applies to reading.

Practicing with books that are too hard results in frustration. Practicing with books that are too easy does little to improve skills and leads to boredom. With Accelerated Reader, we use the term zone of proximal development, or ZPD, to match students to appropriate books. Based on a concept developed by Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the ZPD represents the level of difficulty that is neither too hard nor too easy and is the level at which optimal learning takes place.

Research shows that a student must already know 95 to 98 percent of the words in a book to comprehend it.

Read Regularly

We found that 15 to 60 minutes a day of high-quality practice was associated with the greatest gains.

Use Various Reading Strategies

After choosing a book within the ZPD range the student sits down to read and completes various reading strategies.

For example, self-monitoring, where the students ask themselves “Do I understand what I am reading?”

Students are given sticky notes to flag passages they find hard to understand on first reading.

Then they discuss with the teacher how they could help themselves overcome the problem.

Another reading strategy is summarizing where, while reading, the student retells or summarizes the story in their notebook and periodically writes a sentence about what is happening in the story.

To help develop comprehension the student talks with the teacher about the book before reading and while reading, making predictions before reading and discussing what is happening while reading and continuing to make predictions about what will happen next.

Reading comprehension strategies are taught, and graphic organizers are provided to the student to practice the strategies and reinforce them during independent reading practice. Accelerated Reader gives students a tremendous opportunity to apply reading strategies as they practice reading.

Other Library Activities

Reading Aloud Time

Occasionally there is a reading aloud time, where the teacher teaches and models comprehension strategies, such as visualizing, making predictions, previewing,  questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. This also presents good opportunities for discussions on vocabulary, characterization, and plot.

Book Talks

Informal book talks are a fun way to pique students’ interest in books.  The teacher picks out a few popular titles and holds them up while saying a few things about each book aimed at enticing students to read it. They might read the first few sentences or pages if the beginning is particularly compelling.

Book Discussions and Literature Circles

Small-group discussions about favorite books and authors promote a reading culture.

Discussions can be formal activities (students give presentations on their favorite book) or

informal—a conversation among students who have read the same book, for example. Sometimes teachers give students sticky notes to mark passages they particularly like or find surprising, confusing, or funny. Another strategy is to give students prompts that will jump-start discussion, such as, “If I were this character, I would …,” “I liked the part where …,” or “I wonder ….”

After Reading Comprehension Check

And then, after reading, the student takes a quiz to test their comprehension of the book.

The student discusses the results of the test with the teacher and checks that he or she is on-track.

The student then confers with the teacher to decide on their next book choice.

The  teacher also helps the student with finding the right books

A surefire way to turn a student on to reading is to introduce him to just the right book based on a student’s prior reading history, interest level, and reading achievement data.

Teacher Feedback

Based on the results of the STAR assessment and also monitoring your child’s summaries and other handouts the teacher prepares customized lessons for the areas that your child needs help on each day. These could relate to grammar points, comprehension strategies, spelling, composition practice etc.

Reading Incentives for Students

We have found that prize systems encourage young students to read and to keep on reading.

The points that your child earns throughout the year are accumulated and can be used to earn prizes.

How Can I Monitor How My Child is Doing In the AR Program?

Visit the AR HOME CONNECT website and log in!

Home Connect allows you to view the quizzes your child has taken and their scores. You can register to receive e -mail updates each time your child takes a test, to see how many points your child has, and much, much more!

The Vocabulary Building Program

Build English Vocabulary in a Flash

English in a Flash® helps develop the vocabulary necessary for academic success.

Just 15 minutes a day of dedicated vocabulary practice will give you a solid foundation of English vocabulary.

Benefits of the English in a Flash Program

Learn the way native speakers learn. Students learn vocabulary words first and then encounter them in short phrases, sentences, and dialogues.

Build academic vocabulary. Students engage multiple times with academic words used in context to support the content areas.

Develop listening skills. Students improve listening comprehension skills which support reading comprehension.

Renaissance English in a Flash® develops the vocabulary of English learners for academic success. After a short placement test, students build vocabulary—beyond conversational skills—to support them across the content areas.

English in a Flash helps English learners the vocabulary necessary for classroom success in about 15 minutes a day. Because words are used in context, students develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

As students progress through lessons, quizzes, and reviews, they receive feedback from the teacher is the way of personalized instruction and encouragement.