El Alsson British and American International School is a private international school in New Giza that aims to inspire successful 21st citizens through thinking, learning and caring. The school has been using Accelerated Reader (AR) and Star Assessments (Star) for the past nine years to monitor and improve the reading progress across the year levels. In 2019 they upgraded to Renaissance’s Complete Literacy Solution (CLS) to motivate independent reading by adding myON to their literacy strategy. 

Over the last academic year, the students of El Alsson British and American International School students read over 11,000,000 words while completing over 21,500 AR quizzes and more than 4,200 Star tests. We asked James Parkinson, AR administrator, to explain how the Complete Literacy Solution from Renaissance has helped students to boost their reading engagement and comprehension.

Student reading insights from myON at the El Alsson British and American International School:

Literacy Development with ELL Students 

El Alsson British and American International School have been successfully delivering both British and American curricula since 1982. Within the school, most students are Egyptian nationals (96%), and almost all are English Language Learners (ELL). 

James explained, "The Renaissance solutions gave our students the autonomy to choose their books, within their interest, while increasing their reading engagement. When students engage with the books, they start to read more, and after a while, you can see the difference in their vocabulary and writing skills... and that's what's essential for us.

Reading is a powerful tool for learning, particularly for ELL students who often struggle with language and literacy skills in their native language. Access to a wide range of book titles and quizzes made our students more motivated to read. Setting this motivated reading culture enables our ELL pupils to develop their English proficiency while improving their academic literary performance. Hence, this focus on literacy development and reading engagement supported our learners to discover how to read and write while learning English as a second or third language."

Driving Student Engagement and Proficiency 

El Alsson British and American International School have been trying to encourage the culture of reading in their schools through competitions.

"Eighteen months ago, upon taking on the role of Literacy coordinator, I implemented a reading competition which was designed to increase the amount of books the children are reading and exposed to. Accelerated Reader and myON were great supportive tools to engage students in these competitions - they allowed us a big push in reading. I see a definite trend in improvement in each child." 

Reading competitions are a great way to engage students in reading. They can reward students for their hard work and help them improve their reading proficiency – encouraging students to become better readers by increasing their comprehension, vocabulary and writing skills.

James articulated: "When students are engaged with the books that they read, they become more motivated to read. This motivation can lead to improved literacy skills and higher achievement. Self-selected or teacher-picked literature engages students in discussions about the text using questions that require critical thinking and analysis.

Every half term, we undertake a reading competition primarily for years (grades) three to six. It is perfect for this key stage as they are aware of how to use the technological platforms. 

We split the competition into a year group and a class competition. The year group competition awards the top three students with the most read words, whereas individual competition is a great way to recognize the classes with the most read words. After each half term, the top class gets hot chocolate. This simple reward and the improved student autonomy have enabled us to develop a genuine love of reading among the year levels.

I constantly have teachers and students asking for updates on their classroom’s ranks, and I can observe engaged readers, even reluctant ones, getting slowly super invested in reading. As I mentioned, reading and writing skills go hand in hand. Thus, the competitions and the Renaissance solutions clearly drive engagement and increase proficiency and vocabulary. "

Data-Driven Insights 

"I truly appreciate the idea of the quizzes - they enable the children to think carefully about what they've been reading, a perfect tool for improving their comprehension."

Students who read regularly are more likely than others to do well on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT college entrance exams because they have developed strong vocabulary skills that allow them to understand unfamiliar words within context clues provided by other words around them. However, students often need help understanding their text or a push to pay attention to their reading. 

 James explains that the valuable data from Star Assessments provides the staff with a clear picture of where the students are and what is happening across the school regarding progress and intervention.

“We undertake five Star Tests a year for progress monitoring. At the end of each round of assessment, I pull comprehensive data showcasing both top-achievers and intervention students.

The immediate measures of Star allow the teachers to have better d understanding when taking part in discussions and instructional planning in the year group. He elaborates, "We have some children doing really well and some performing significantly below their reading age. The data allows us the identify the right pupils and put interventions in place when needed. Additionally, Star enables me to share information and start conversations with staff and parents to decide the best way to support each child. 

The Complete Literacy Solution helps me to monitor daily where the children are and what they are reading. I also appreciate the quizzes - they enable the children to think carefully about what they've been reading, a perfect tool for improving their comprehension.

To find out how your school can utilise the Complete Literacy Solution to boost reading enjoyment and achievement, click here.

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