Thursday, November 15, 2012
The case against accelerated reader
Sent to the Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, November 14
The case against accelerated reader (AR) is even stronger than the Jan Lacina’s article states (“Accelerated Reader: Teaching kids the 'game' of school testing, Nov. 13).
There is no clear evidence that AR works, even in the short term. AR has four components: It provides access to books, provides time to read, quizzes children on what they read, and awards prizes for performance on the quizzes. As Dean Lacina notes, it is well-established that providing books and time to read are effective, but AR research does not show that the quizzes and prizes add anything. Studies claiming AR is effective compare AR to doing nothing; gains were probably due to the reading, not the tests and prizes.
Also, AR could also have the effect of discouraging reading in the long run: Reading is intrinsically pleasant. Substantial research shows that rewarding an intrinsically pleasant activity sends the message that the activity is not pleasant, and that nobody would do it without a bribe. AR might be convincing children that reading is not pleasant. No studies have been done on the long-term effect of AR.
Kohn, A. 1999. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (second edition)
Krashen, S. 2003. The (lack of) experimental evidence supporting the use of accelerated reader. Journal of Children’s Literature 29 (2): 9, 16-30. (Available at www.sdkrashen.com)
Krashen, S. 2004. A comment on Accelerated Reader: The pot calls the kettle black. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 47(6): 444-445.
Krashen, S. 2005. Accelerated reader: Evidence still lacking. Knowledge Quest 33(3): 48-49.