Software:Accelerated Reader

From HandWiki
Short description: Educational software
Accelerated Reader
Developer(s)Renaissance Learning
Initial release1998; 25 years ago (1998)
Operating systemWindows, macOS

Accelerated Reader (AR) is a website used to assist students with reading skills. It is a digital program that helps students and teachers manage and monitor independent reading practice in both English and Spanish. Students pick a book at their own level and read it at their own pace. When students finish the book, they take a short quiz on the computer to check their understanding. As students read and take quizzes, they earn points and track their progress toward their individualized Accelerated Reader goals.[1]



ATOS is a readability formula designed by Renaissance Learning.[2]

Books with quizzes in Accelerated Reader are assigned an ATOS readability level.[3]


Accelerated (going up to 7th grade) Reader (AR) quizzes are available on fiction and non-fiction books, textbooks, supplemental materials, and magazines. Most are in the form of reading practice quizzes, although some are curriculum-based with multiple subjects.

Many of the company's quizzes are available in an optional recorded voice format for primary-level books, in which the quiz questions and answers are read to the student taking the quiz. These quizzes are designed to help emerging English and some[quantify] Spanish readers take the quizzes without additional assistance.

The Renaissance Place version of Accelerated Reader also includes quizzes designed to practice vocabulary.[4] The quizzes use words from books, and are taken after the book has been read. Bookmarks can be printed out that display the vocabulary words so that, as students read, they can refer to the bookmark for help. The quizzes keep track of words learned.


  • Reports are generated on demand to help students, teachers, and parents monitor student progress. Reports are available regarding student reading, comprehension, amount of reading, diagnostic information, and other variables. Customizable reports available in the Renaissance Place edition can also report district-level information.[5]

The TOPS Report (The Opportunity to Praise Students) reports quiz results after each quiz is taken. Diagnostic Reports identify students in need of intervention based on various factors. The Student Record Report is a complete record of the books the student has read.

Evaluation research

A number of studies have been conducted regarding the effectiveness of using Accelerated Reader in the classroom. The following two studies were reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse and were found to meet their high standards[vague] for research.[6][citation needed]

Ross, Nunnery, and Goldfeder studied 1,665 students and 76 teachers (grades K-8) from 12 schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Some teachers were randomly selected to use Accelerated Reader and the others continued the regular curriculum without using the software. Students in classrooms with Accelerated Reader demonstrated gains. Many of the teachers that used the software responded positively to it and indicated that they would continue to use the software.[7] In another study, Nunnery, Ross, and McDonald assessed the reading achievement of students in grades 3–8. They assessed the effects of individual, classroom, and school factors that impact reading achievement. Those in Accelerated Reader classrooms still outperformed students in control classrooms. Students with learning disabilities in very high implementation classrooms did not suffer from their disabilities as much as similar students in low or no implementation classrooms.[8]

Other evaluations

In a controlled evaluation, Holmes and Brown found that two schools using the School Renaissance program achieved statistically significant higher standardized test scores when compared with two comparison schools that only used the Renaissance program in a limited way.[9] Because so many schools in the United States are using Accelerated Reader, it was difficult for the authors of this study to find two schools in Georgia that were not already using Accelerated Reader. The authors noted:

In all nine comparisons involving standardized test scores in reading, language arts, and mathematics, the Renaissance schools' children outperformed the contrast school's children. It can only be concluded that the Renaissance program was highly effective in raising the performance of these elementary students.

In 2003, Samuels and Wu found that, after six months, third- and fifth-grade students who used Accelerated Reader demonstrated twice the gain in reading comprehension as those that did not use Accelerated Reader.[10][11] The comparison students completed book reports, suggesting that delayed feedback through book reports is not as useful as the immediate feedback provided by Accelerated Reader. In another study, Samuels and Wu found students in Accelerated Reader classrooms[where?], after controlling for the amount of time spent reading each day, outperformed students in control classrooms.[12][13]

Researcher Keith Topping completed a number of studies on Accelerated Reader that found the software to be an effective assessment for deciding curriculum.[14][15]


Educators, such as Cookie Muncie, have argued that the use of Accelerated Reader does not teach reading for comprehension; it only teaches reading for recall.[16] A minimal number of Literacy Skill Quizzes in Accelerated Reader claim to assess higher order thinking skills. Eight Literacy Skill Quizzes have an ATOS level of 1.0-3.0, which provides limited support for higher order thinking skills for developing readers.[citation needed] Renaissance Place includes recognizing setting and understanding sequence as examples of higher order thinking.[17] Turner and Paris's study on the role of classroom literacy tasks is particularly relevant.[18] Their vignettes describing open versus closed tasks may inform how we consider Accelerated Reader. In this program, students usually take end-of-book tests called Reading Practice Quizzes that are composed of literal-recall questions to which there is only one answer. Turner and Paris would classify these quizzes as "closed tasks.".[18] Thus, they concluded that open-ended tasks are more supportive of literacy growth in the future.[18] This research prompts some educators to refrain from using Accelerated Reader quizzes out of fear that students will begin to perceive the purpose of reading as answering literal-recall questions and possibly lose the desire to read.

Florida Center for Reading Research, citing two studies that support the product noted both the lack of available books in a school's library and the lack of assessment of "inferential or critical thinking skills" as weaknesses of the software. Their guide also noted a number of strengths of the software, including its ability to motivate students and provide immediate results on students' reading habits and progress.[19]

Renaissance Learning, the product's developer, has stated that its intended purpose is to assess whether or not a student has read a book,[3] not to assess higher order thinking skills, to teach or otherwise replace curriculum, to supersede the role of the teacher, or to provide extrinsic reward. The Literacy Skill Quizzes do attempt to assess higher-order thinking skills, even though this isn't intended purpose of the program. Jim Trelease describes Accelerated Reader, along with Scholastic's Reading Counts!, as "reading incentive software" in an article exploring the pros and cons of the two software packages.[20] Stephen D. Krashen, in a 2003 literature review, asserts that reading incentives is one of the aspects of Accelerated Reader.[21] In this review, Krashen reiterates prior research stating that reading for incentives does not create long-term readers. However, as noted above, Renaissance Learning does not promote the use of incentives, and the software can be used without incentives.

Use of the program has been criticized by Scholastic as preventing children from reading from a variety of difficulty levels. A PowerPoint from Scholastic, made in 2006, indicates that 39% of children between the ages of five and ten have read a Harry Potter novel, with 68% of students in that age range having an interest in reading or re-reading a Harry Potter book.[22] For example, the ATOS reading level of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is 5.5 (with ATOS numbers corresponding to grade levels). This would indicate that students below that grade range may not be able to read and comprehend the book. Since teachers, parents and student use readability levels to select books, this may discourage students from reading the book, as the student is under pressure to earn Accelerated Reader points during the school year, although students can take tests and earn points for books at any ATOS level.


  1. "Accelerated Reader Family Resource" (in en-US). 
  2. "ATOS Readability". 2012-02-20. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Design of Accelerated Reader Assessments". Renaissance Learning 1 (1): 1–8. April 1999. 
  4. "Accelerated Reader 360 - Close reading practice | Renaissance". 2018-03-13. 
  5. "Accelerated Reader Overview - Sample Reports". 2007-01-04. 
  6. Press release about the What Works Clearinghouse [|permanent dead link|dead link}}]
  7. Ross, Steven M.; Nunnery, John; Goldfeder, Elizabeth (April 2004). "A Randomized Experiment on the Effects of Accelerated Reader/Reading Renaissance in an Urban School District: Final Evaluation Report". 
  8. Nunnery, John A.; Ross, Steven M.; McDonald, Aaron (November 16, 2009). "A Randomized Experimental Evaluation of the Impact of Accelerated Reader/Reading Renaissance Implementation on Reading Achievement in Grades 3 to 6" (in English). Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (Jespar) 11: 1–18. doi:10.1207/s15327671espr1101_1. Retrieved 2022-10-17. 
  9. Holmes, C.T., & Brown, C.L. (2003). A Controlled Evaluation of a Total School Improvement Process, School Renaissance. Technical Report. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
  10. "papers". 2005-04-19. 
  11. Samuels, S. Jay; Wu, Yi-Chen. "The Effects of Immediate Feedback on Reading Achievement". Department of Educational Psychology 1 (1): 1–20. 
  12. Samuels & Wu (2004) research paper (PDF).
  13. Wu, Yi-Chen; Samuels, S. Jay. "How the Amount of Time Spent on Independent Reading Affects Reading Achievement: A Response to the National Reading Panel". Department of Educational Psychology 1 (1): 1–25. 
  14. "Learning Information Systems". 2005-09-15. 
  15. "Reading Online - Formative Assessment of Reading Comprehension by Computer". 2005-02-09. 
  16. "Re: Renaissance Learning Software programs--Reviews?". 2007-03-12. 
  17. "Literacy Skills Quizzes". 2012-09-05. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Turner, Julianne; Paris, Scott G (May 1995). "How Literacy Tasks Influence Children's Motivation for Literacy". The Reading Teacher 48 (8): 662–673. 
  19. "Florida Center for Reading Research / Accelerated Reader". 2006-02-10. 
  20. "Handbook: Chpt 5, p.3". 2006-01-03. 
  21. "The (Lack of ) Experimental Evidence Supporting the Use of Accelerated Reader". 2005-11-05. 
  22. "Kids and Family Reading Report™ Harry Potter: The Power of One Book". July 2006. 

External links