A boarding school in the highlands of Kenya has seen standards improve across the English curriculum after introducing Accelerated Reader.
Accelerated Reader has helped the school to tap into a latent enthusiasm for reading and learning, making reading practice more purposeful and improving results. As Shirley Rogers, the school’s library manager and AR project leader, explains, there was a good culture of reading, but the pupils’ reading ages and general levels of English did not reflect this”.
Shirley and the team used AR to develop the reading culture at St Andrew’s and to introduce rewards and incentives for reading. “We have a bookworm target chart and award ‘millionaires’ certificates for those reading over a million words. There is a great deal of competition, especially among the boys, to get high marks and earn points. This is also because we have introduced our own Reading Awards which are based on earning points and achieving above 85% on quizzes.”
Staff have been surprised by how significant an impact AR has had on the school. “When we started in September, I promised the pupils a celebration cake when we reached 10 million words. I thought it would take most of the term. We had our cake before half term!” Students are still motivated once the initial targets are reached, too: they have now reached 100 million words.
“The library is definitely busier and the books are getting worn out much quicker! Students choose their books confidently and are much more willing to try reading a range of authors rather than stick to their favourite one or two.” Students have been seen reading more in their free time, choosing to read for pleasure in addition to timetabled library sessions.
As well as boosting the culture of reading at St Andrew’s, AR has helped to improve standards in the wider curriculum. Regular purposeful reading practice has been found to equip students with the comprehension skills they need to succeed in other subjects, and this has certainly been the case at St Andrew’s. “Reading standards have definitely improved and the English department in particular has noticed that the children who make the most of AR have improved their marks both in comprehension and writing.”