Accelerated Reader is a reading program that is used to progress monitor students reading development. Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer software and web-based program that was created by Renaissance Learning, Inc. The AR reading assessment program is used in primary and secondary education. The AR software provides several different benefits to students. Students take a test to start the process. This test identifies their reading level and suggests books in their level that might interest them. The program tracks what students read and provides other data for students and teachers to view. Many schools use the Accelerated Reader program as a reading incentive program although Renaissance Learning does not promote this use of the program.
There are three steps in the AR processes. First, students read books that are on their reading level. They may read fiction or non-fiction. After a student read the book, they will take a quiz to test their comprehension of the book. If schools are using the computer based software program then the schools must purchased tests to go along with popular books or books in their library. This can be a very expensive process. With the web-based program, most books are available. After students complete the quiz, the teacher will be able to access reports to monitor student progress, motivate reading, and assist in identifying instructional level for differentiation. Upon completion of the quizzes, students earn AR points. Many schools use these points as an incentive to encourage students to read. The incentive programs vary by school, but usually reward students who earn a certain level of points with gifts or extra fun opportunities.
There are critics of the Accelerated Reading Program. Some believe that the program does not require students to use higher order thinking skills. They believe it does not really help develop comprehension skills, just basic recall. Some also believe that students might be discouraged to read certain books because they are not on their individual reading level. It is also a concern that when the program is used as an incentive students sometimes read books just to earn points and sometimes students pick easier books to allow them to earn points easier.