Reading program boon to elementary

Yvette McFarland and Margaret Mate

Has your child read 78 books this school year? Second graders at Tucumcari Elementary School have! The Accelerated Reading Program (A.R.) helped make this possible. We have evaluated this program this year to find the following results:
o 64 Second-grade students
o Average reading level: Third grade (2 months above level at this writing)
o Average number of books read this year: 78
o Average comprehension score for the year: 91 percent
Each quarter students take the STAR test to determine their reading level. After reading each book on their level, students take a comprehension test on the computer. Students earn points and receive certificates.
After becoming an Independent Reader, students work through 10 levels in each of the certificates of Super Reader, Advanced Reader, Star Reader, Classic Reader and Honor Reader.
Each certificate requires students to read longer books. The school day includes two sessions of reading A.R. books for 30 minutes at a time.
Parent surveys were filled with positive comments on their child’s reading progress. However, the surveys also indicated that students were not showing the TOPS reports to parents and some parents did not understand these reports. TOPS stands for The Opportunity to Praise Students.
Parents might want to share in this opportunity to praise their child. These reports reveal the current test result, the current reading level, averages for the current grading period, averages for the year, the last certificate awarded and the goal of the next certificate.
Parents need to be aware that the program does require extra printing paper. One package of paper is now a required item on each student’s supply list. Hopefully, parents will be willing to supply the paper when they realize that the benefit is an increased reading ability for students.
We consider the A.R. Reading Program to be a great motivator and self-concept builder for our students. Student surveys showed that students are proud of their reading levels. We are proud that so many second graders are now reading chapter books, longer books divided into chapters with less pictures. This was not the norm before A.R. Reading. Just last year, most second graders read 100 books, but the books had fewer pages. This year students have read less books, but the books are the longer, chapter books.
We believe that the A.R. Program was a factor in the national Terra Nova scores which were above New Mexico standards in reading. In addition to increased reading skills, students have read many nonfiction books about science and social studies which was reflected in their science and social studies scores on this national test.