Attempting to Dodge AR
My new school has about 500 students, is about 15 minutes away, and doesn’t have AR. Nice.
But this post-holiday, pre-testing season always leads to panicky adoption of all kinds of “magic bullet” things which have of course led to questions of us signing up for the AR bandwagon.
I know, I know, your school has AR and the implementation has been flawless and it has led to near-miraculous amounts of reading and over-the-top test scores and things couldn’t be better.
Yet this is us. I will of course go by whatever the stakeholders at my school and my Media Committee decide on. But in the interest of fairness, however, I think it’s important I educate them on what many see as at best a waste of money and at worst detrimental to our desire to foster lifelong readers and learners.
So I’m sharing some information around my school. Including this article written by Dr. Stephen Krashen which the AASL found important enough to put on their site for all school librarians to be aware of. I think one of the more compelling arguments against adoption (leaving alone the less-than-compelling evidence that the program even works) is the sheer expense of it at a poor little Title I school as can be found here at the What Works Clearinghouse.
I’d much rather be spending that money on getting more interesting books for the students to choose from.
I also plan on going over these 18 Reasons Not to Use AR put together by Reading Specialist Mark Pennington.
If I lose this battle and we end up adopting AR or some similar program I will read the recommendations carefully and make sure it is properly implemented of course. For AR that would mean making sure, as Renaissance Learning suggests, that students are given at least an hour each day to read, that their scores are in no way tied to grades and that there are no prizes attached to the point levels. Oh, and above all, that each student gets to decide if they want to participate. You knew that was all part of it, right?
I’m thinking if the decision makers know that they will be spending more than a third of my book budget on something that is supposed to be completely voluntary and has sketchy research backing it up that they might agree with me that AR isn’t the way to go.