Frequently Asked Questions
What is Accelerated Reader (AR)?
AR is a computerized program that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Students choose books at their reading level and read at their own pace. When finished reading, they take a quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz shows that the students understand what they read.
How do I know if a book is an AR book?
99% of the books at Della’s library, Square Books, Jr., and the Oxford Lafayette Public Library have AR quizzes. You can check the AR website, www.renlearn.com, to find quiz numbers, book levels, interest levels, and quiz points. Quizzes are added weekly. Over 169,000 AR quizzes are available, and new quizzes are added weekly. DDES students have access to every AR quiz.
Where and when can my child take an AR quiz?
DDES students can take quizzes on school computers:
Monday through Friday from 7:15 AM to 2:25 PM.
What is a Book Level (BL)?
The book level (BL) of a book represents the difficulty of the vocabulary. For example, a 4.5 BL means that the text could be read by a typical 4th grader during the 5th month of school.
What is a Reading Range or Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?
This is the BL range that will challenge a child without causing frustration or loss of motivation. Your child will receive a ZPD after taking a STAR test. STAR has 34 multiple-choice questions that continually change to your child’s responses. If the child’s response is correct, the difficulty level increases. If the child misses a question, the level is reduced. Teachers use their professional judgment to adjust your child’s ZPD. 5th graders who comprehend 12th grade vocabulary will still have a 5.0 - 12.0 ZPD, because they are in 5th grade. Many Newbery winners have BL’s lower than 5.0; for example: The One and Only Ivan 3.6, Bridge to Terabithia 4.6, Holes 4.6,
Island of the Blue Dolphins 5.4 and Sounder 5.3. 5th graders should not miss these classics, just because they are able to comprehend 12th grade vocabulary.
What is Interest Level (IL)?
IL is based on a book's content including theme, characterization, and plot. There are 4 levels:
- Lower Grades (LG)
- Middle Grades (MG)
- Middle Grades Plus (MG+)
- Upper Grades (UG)
Many books with easy vocabulary and simple sentence structure are designated UG because of content and theme. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury has an UG IL and a 4.4 BL. In contrast, Ursula Moray Williams’ Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse has a LG IL and a 6.1 BL. Though the book contains difficult words and long sentences, it is intended to interest LG students.
What are points?
AR points are assigned based on the difficulty of the vocabulary and the number of words in the book. The student must make 100% on a quiz to earn all the points. If questions are answered incorrectly, the student earns fewer points. The Berenstain Bears books, which have about 8,000 words and an average 3.5 BL, are 1-point books. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which has about 198,227 words and a 6.9 BL, is a 34-point book. Many popular books have more points assigned to them than classic pieces of literature. For example: John Grisham’s The Firm (4.6 BL with 135,293 words) is a 20-point book while Shakespeare’s Macbeth (10.9 BL with 19,048 words) is a 4-point book. This does not mean The Firm is a better book or more worthwhile to read than Macbeth, only that The Firm is much longer and provides more reading practice.
Is it OK for my child to read above or below the ZPD?
Just because a child can read the words of a book, it does not mean the content is appropriate or that the child understands the words in context. For example, most elementary students have not studied the Harlem Renaissance so would not understand the following passage from Walter Dean Myers’ poem Harlem, a 3.6 BL.
“In Harlem sparrows sit on fire escapes outside of Rent parties to learn the tunes.
In Harlem the wind doesn’t blow past Smalls, it stops to listen to the sounds.”
The DDES library follows the Interest Level Guidelines of School Library Journal and Booklist. However, parents make the final decision on whether the content of a book is appropriate for their children.
Information updated by Ruth Thompson, October 23, 2014.