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    aren't worth a whole lot, but here they are anyway. We are an AR school, and our principal insists that every grade k-3 uses it. I like it and find it beneficial, but I also agree w/ many points already expressed.

    The first thing I would stress is that it MUST be individualized for each child. In my 3rd grade class alone, I had one child STAR test at a 0.9 level and another at 5.8! There is NO WAY those two children should be expected to do the same thing. Their point goals and reading levels are worlds apart. I have one child with a weekly point goal of 1, the highest in my class is 2.5. These are attainable based on the amount of time they are reading in class. I have a D.E.A.R. time daily of 45 minutes and point goals are set from that. AR recommends that you NOT set the point goals based on any home reading time, because too often they don't read then.

    We are fortunate to have nearly 5,000 AR tests in our computer system, so basically any book they choose from the library is AR. Our librarian adds new tests when she adds new books, so it's always growing.

    Because of abuse by one particular teacher last year, we are no longer able to delete tests ourselves. The librarian is the only one allowed to. If a child fails because the book was the wrong level, or the wrong test, she will delete, but not just because they made a bad grade. We strongly encourage the kids not to test until they are sure they can make 100. In 3rd grade where I teach we made question charts for the kids to quiz each other before testing--things like the main idea, main characters, (basically who, what, when, where, why, how).

    We do NOT stress points. We stress grades. The weekly test average is recorded and the weekly test record is printed and sent home. The points just tell us if they are reading enough, in books that are too hard or easy, that sort of thing. If a child is reading picture books only and racking up scads of points, then he probably should move up a level or switch to a chapter book or nonfiction if all the books have been fiction. You must do status-of-the-class often to keep up w/ this, but it's not hard or very time consuming once you get in the habit. We shop for prizes with points only twice a year--at the end of each semester.

    I have not let my students use the book to look up answers yet this year, but later as they all get into chapter books, I will. We encourage them to go back and find answers in the state test, so why would I discourage the practice in their every day reading? Right now they are too dependent on picture cues. The state test doesn't have many pictures, so I want to encourage READING before I let them look things up. I do, however, make them ask for permission before looking things up. If I think they should know the book well enough w/out looking back, I won't let them. Or sometimes, they read the question to me, and I look it up then hand them the book and tell them which page the answer can be found on-especially if the book is extremely long.

    I not only allow, but require testing on all books read by me to the class regardless of book level. There is a place on the test for the child to choose-read this to myself, someone read with me, someone read to me. The read to me books don't count toward reaching certification goals, but do count for points and grade average.

    I also HIGHLY recommend training by the Reading Renaissance people. Your teachers will understand more and be more likely to implement correctly if they have learned from the manufacturer rather than hit and miss on their own. You will also have more consistency across the grade levels.

    View the original thread this idea was posted on

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