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I try to speak to students before or after their test as often as possible
to show an interest in their progressrunning at your schools have any advice
for me?  Any hints for handling
>passwords? when kids take tests? stopping the obvious ways of cheating?
>Things I don't even know about yet?

I suggest that you have the program where you must use the moniter's
password before taking each test.  This is a pain but stops kids from
taking tests under each other's account.

But the most important thing is have your teachers us the LOGS!!
Teachers that use the logs are more aware of what their students are doing.
It would also make cheating much more difficult.

I can't get some teachers to understand that when I say that the students
must test "on their level" that I mean reading level not Grade Level!!

These are my pet peeves this year!


Cynthia F. Smith, LMS
Rhea Central Elementry School
1005 Delaware Avenue
Dayton, TN  37321


Dear Jan
I started the AR program many years ago in K-6 school.  It was a few years
before cheating started but we dealing with kids, it happens.  I have
suggested to teachers that they look at every test printed out for the name
match between the student taking the test and the name on the test paper.
If cheating happens, we have erased all points of students involved for that
school year.  There is also a Computer Usage Rule in our school which would
keep those students from using the computer for any purpose for a period of
time even if they have assignments which require computer use.  I would
recommend making students aware up front what will happen to cheaters.
Hope this helps. Linda
----- Original Message -----
From: Jan Creasey <JCreasey@AOL.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 1999 6:22 PM
Subject: Any hints for starting AR


A couple of things I would do differently -

I would not color code my books. Instead I would put the reading level
on a small plain white label on the back cover of the books. You
eliminate laveling the shelves by color, and making the little color
guides. And there are students who will stay with the lowest level they
can - never coming in contact with the higher level books.

I would not arrange the books by reading level. I would arrange them
(separate from the regular collection) in Dewey order. MANY students and
teachers will come in looking for a particular book. It is time
consuming to look through five or six shelves of blue color coded books.
Yes your aid will be constantly straightening and putting in order.

I would shelve any AR paperbacks in the proper Dewey place with the rest
of the AR books. If they are on a paperback rack all mixed up you will
spend hours finding particular titles.

LEave as much of the reporting  - all of it  - to the classroom teacher.
Don't get into doing those reports from your media center. I think this
should be a classroom activity - not one generated from the media

We've had a store this year - the kids love it - and it takes almost two
days out of my week. I have to stock it which means regular trips to The
Dollar Store and SAMs - 45 mins from here. All day on Friday - we sell -
I have to stay right with the store. Student helpers are okay in a pinch
but students don't behave properly unlesss I'm in there. They also steal
stuff. PTA helpers are not much better - reluctant to correct and then
doctor's appointments always crop up at the last minute.I spend a lost
of time fundraieing for the store - asking for funds and prices. I hate
that part of it. We're always alsking for money from partners. In other
words - I wish I had chosen something easier to deal with than a store,
Maybe some standard prizes as they reach 25, 50, 75 etc.Like I said the
kids love the store - but it is a drain on my time and energy.

I know that there is a controversy about shelving the books separately
form the regular collection. You can not imagine how much traffic there
is going to be. The children will arrive in hoards - looking for a book
on their level - the shortest one - and scoot back to the room to read.
Many of those kids will be back the same day to swap that book either
because they have finished it or they didn't like it.YOur shelves will
look like a tornado has been through them. I prefer to keep this tornado
strewn area to a minimun. Actually those are the only books our children
ever check out now - except for a few drawing books.We have about 2000
AR books and 800 6-8 graders.

I'm sure I've told you more than you want to know. I also run a computer
lab in the media center. AR keeps my aide busy during the entire day - I
get no help with any thing anymore. AR is draining.

Hope I haven't said too much/ I plan on making a few of the changes I
listed to make things a little easier.

Ann Bener
Hart County Middle School
Hartwell GA 30643

Thanks Rita,
I too use AR and have caught a couple of kids cheating.  I like the
guidelines you use with your students and I will definitely use something
like this for the coming school year - where parents and students sign.

I require my students to acquire a certain number of points each 9 weeks -
No. of points equals 1 grade in my grade book.  For example 1st 9 weeks -
20 points or more equals an A, 16-19.9 equals a B etc.  2nd 9 weeks
requires 30 points for an A and the rest of the scale is adjusted.  This
worked well for me last year.  In addition to this, students have to do a
couple of book reports each 9 weeks - When I say book reports, it can mean
a range of activities such as --- a character map listing each character
and details about each one ---a character journal where the student assumes
a character's role and keeps a daily journal etc.  I found that giving them
writing assignments with their reading helps them stay on task and READ.
Anytime they do a book report on an AR book, I also count the score on the
book as a test grade.  This seemed to work well too.

If anyone else has any ideas to make sure students are truly reading,
please share.

Karen P.

Hi. I also do not want to start AR wars, so I am sending this to you. Iteach
4 sections of 8th grade LA, and we have used AR for several years. Every year
we change it a little to suit our situation. This year our AR grade is going
to be 20% of the LA grade. We are still working on grading, but it will be
based on:
1 - % of points earned
2 - % correct
3 - improvement in reading level
4 - reading nonfiction.

Our Curriculum Spt. added #4 since our end-of-grade test is 75% nonfiction

I give my students grades every 3 weeks so that they will have a chance to
bring their grades up if they are low.

We give everyone STAR tests at the beginning of the year, and assign points
based on that. We are lucky in that we have 1hr of reading every day.
Students take tests by language arts class, but they do their reading by
homeroom. They may take tests during that hour, or in class -- if the teacher
lets them.

I use my own certificates, and have an AR bulletin board in the classroom. We
also have a school bulletin board by the office.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Oh yes, cheating. We don't have too much of that since students cannot take a
test without a signed reading log that says they have read the book.

Margaret Cooper

I've used AR for several years with my 6th graders and I like the program.
If you write to AR they will supply you with reasearch data about the
program and this also has several good suggestions for working with the
program.  I set up requirements for each nine weeks.  1st-5 points, any
grade level;2nd-8pts.any level;3rd-10pts. any level for
90%(A-),15pts=100%;4th-10pts=90%,15pts=95%,20pts=100% at assigned reading
level(I make assignments based on what they have been doing and what I feel
may challenge them)  I have on average 25 students to look after with this
program.  These points are due about 2 wks. before the end of the nine
weeks.  If not done, they stay after school until done.  I keep the points
fairly low and for the majority of the year no grade level because I want
all my students to practice reading.  I usually always have some that have
to stay, but I rarely have students that don't get their points.  Keeping
the points low also frees up my avid readers to choose books that are not on
the list. Completion of this assignment is part of the reading grade, as
well as his/her avg % correct and number of tests passed.  During reading we
make log entries once a week and most students use AR books for these so
that is one way I keep track if they are actually reading the book.  Also it
is easy to keep track of his/her checkout record.  If they haven't checked
it out, no test. I also print out and/or look at the test taken lists every
2 weeks or so.  You can usually catch a cheater at a glance. Our 8th grade
teacher with 100 students to look after uses as similar system in that she
must see the book they check out and then must bring back the book to take
the test.  Cheating can be a problem, but I discuss this with students and
then place a little trust in them.  I also feel that this is just as good -
no probably better- system than the book(jacket/film/notes...)reports that I
used to get from students-Talk about cheating or not reading the book!!  I
always have student say each year, "you know, I've never read a whole book
before or earned any points.  Hope this long message helps.Jean B. Robinson
Middle School USD#415

This is an example of what our students sign at the beginning of the year.
Parents also must sign.. It has helped our program a lot, but some kids
always will try to find a way to cheat. I like the idea about bringing the
book with you when you test. I might add that to our sheet.. Hope this helps.


I've done AR for two years.  My first year I was a big fan, now I don't know.
 I am finding myself using it less and less.  We had a big scandal at our
school, when 8th graders were reading the illustrated classics and passing
tests on novels like Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations-big points.When
they got caught parents felt that it wasn't really cheating and there was a
whole hulabulu about it.

I really don't know how you can avoid the cheating.  I am now using AR as a
choice.  One problem for me is that the books are limited and I have kids who
want to read other types of books,  so I use reading logs as another choice.
I like AR for the tests and usually the kid does have to read the book to
pass, but not always.


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Subject: Re: AR Hints for starting Part 4

Hi, Jan! We are doing our 2nd year of AR this year at our middle school
(grades 6-8). Our first year, we only had testing in the library, because
the network wasn't complete. It worked beautifully, but was pretty
exhausting for me and my aide. You have a lot of control this way, and we
never had an incidence of the monitor password being breached. We were
doing a better job of monitoring whether a student should be testing than
the teachers were. During the last trimester of school, the network was
completed, and teachers began testing in their classrooms. The monitor
password was breached within a week and has been changed twice since then.
It's really a matter of teachers figuring out that they need to get with
you on this and make a real effort to keep the password secret. Here are
some possible pitfalls that we know better about now.

1.  If the monitor password is figured out by a student, change it
immediately and make the teachers come to YOU personally for the new code.
Do not send it to a teacher by way of a student messenger. If this causes
inconveniences, too bad.

2.  Really imprint on teachers the importance of human monitoring (using
the AR student log, and engaging students in conversation about the book)
while the book is being read to insure that it IS actually read and not
just rushed through. If students are keeping narrative logs on the book,
they should turn them in before the test, and they should not be given
back. Otherwise, students use them as home-made Cliff's Notes. If students
will be allowed to test in classrooms other than their own language arts
class, the teacher in the "other" classroom should require seeing the log
before allowing the test.

3.  Add a little spice to life now and then by offering a small prize for
some random test passers. We used fancy ballpoint pens (the kind where the
top is bent into a heart, etc.) and gave them out if someone passed a test
and their TOPS report printed on a sheet with a small heart drawn in the
corner. (We seeded the printer paper tray with some of these sheets ahead
of time.) We don't do a prize store, and this allows students who may not
be very high scorers to win something once in awhile. We do bigger prizes
for the high scoring teams and the point club members. (Pizza parties, trip
to the bookstore, etc.)

4.  You can start all students out with the password TEST. That way you can
get them into the program the first time, and then have them change their
password immediately. We do a lesson on choosing a password, and have each
person choose theirs and write it down on a slip of paper before coming to
the computer. Then we just man the computers and call them up individually
to get in and change their password. We do this during the time we are
introducing AR at the beginning of the year. You can get a whole class of
kids through if you have them prepare so that they aren't sitting at the
computer thinking of a code.
If you have S.T.A.R., it's wise to have them use the same code for both


Gayle Hodur                             Snail Mail:
District Librarian                      Main Street Middle School
Soledad Unified School District         441 Main Street
(408) 678-3923                          Soledad, CA  93960

Pager Screen Names:
UnGayle (IM and ichat)
10682291 (ICQ)
15661301 (ICQ - this is the number for &LibraryChat, if you have ICQ w/chat)

Hi, Jan,
        You have one important thing to prevent cheating by
students:  the one computer station in each LA teacher's
classroom.  Students should take tests only in that room on the
one machine.  Don't even try to have them take the tests in
the library.  You will save yourself many gray hairs this way!
The teacher is responsible for monitoring student use and thus
monitoring cheating.
        I do identify AR books by a special label on the
outside of the book and it has both level and points on it.
Books are shelved alphabetically as they normally would be, not
AR books separately.  I list the AR books in the MARC records
with the level after the subject Accelerated Reader:
Accelerated Reader (L4.5) This is then searchable by level in
my Follett system.  I use the 658 tag because I saw that
suggestion ages ago on LM_NET.  If one chooses to use the 526
tag, it is searchable by level under keyword.
        Be prepared to be surprised at how many low level books
you will need.  AR, or Reading Renaissance, has the students
reading at their "comfort" reading level, which is below the
tested level.  Our lower level students race through a L2.5, P1
book in a day and are back for another one the next day, if not
the same day.  The good thing about this is their progress!
        If I can answer any specific questions you have, please
feel free to write.
        You are starting on a great adventure!

        ;-D  Lena
Lena Grant
Library Media Specialist
Western Branch Middle School
Chesapeake, VA 23321

We use AR in our school for 1300 students and we do have some problems.
Things that we have done to secure the students info and from others.
1. They must have a reading log filled out and the book with them to take a
2. The only way the student can get in is for the teacher to log in and than
they can go to their name.
3. their password is their student number
4. They can only take a test once
5. They cannot take a test again from grade to grade.
6. They receive the print out of the test and that must be filled in their
log and the teacher must initial the log and report.
7. They can only take test in a classroom.  They are not allowed to take them
in lab,
or the library.
8. Our language arts teacher's have three computers in their classroom that
are designed for the students to take test on.  The other computer is for the
teacher's use.
These are a few of the things we did to insure the secure of the program.
Immokalee Middle

The main suggestion I would make, other than run for your life, is
insist that teachers "hang loose" about the reading levels and allow
students as much choice in their book selection as possible. The rigid
adherence to small ranges of "OK" levels for students to read is
terribly restrictive and frustrating. Especially when the levelling of
the books seems capricious at best in many instances. Also, please,
please try to encourage the reading of non-AR books. The teachers who
are relaxed about using the system and view it primarily as a record
keeping or management aid have much happier students. Do I sound like I
dislike AR? In many ways that is true but the fact remains that reading
tests are up at my school. I understand it can be a positive tool for
busy teachers who might not have time/inclination to put on a
self-developmed program. Good luck! Mary Ann

    We've had AR for about 4 years.  Let me tell you how ours is set
up.  We use the monitor password system on tests, that is after each
test is done a teacher must put in a password to validate the test.  We
have at least one each year trying to take tests for others.  We also
don't allow students to see the questions they missed since they could
pass that info on to their friends.  I and I alone am the program
administrator-- I put in the names and load tests and take care of
problems.  This eliminates the possibility that some student gets a hold
of the key disk from a teacher and wreaks havoc in the system.  I
usually only give the monitor password to the English teachers since
they are the ones that have a vested interest in keeping it secure.  I
change the monitor password at the beginning of second semester each
year.  The student passwords are input by me ( I use a dictionary) and I
change any that I hear bandied about.  I try to emphasize to the
students that giving out passwords is like giving someone a key to your
grade.  Others can go in and take tests, fail them and block the student
from taking them again.
    Now, I know this seems like a lot, but I've found after I have put
in the new students for the year and acquaint everyone with their
password, it goes pretty smoothly.  Oh yes, one other thing.  I've
started buying custom test disks since I can choose what tests I want on
the disk.  In the past, I've had to eliminate tests like Jurassic Park
because too many take it ( and some pass it) by just watching the
movie.  I delete those tests.  I keep telling the students this is
Accelerated READER not Accelerated Movie watcher.
    All I can think of for now.  Hope you enjoy the program. I do.  It's
done wonders for our reading scores.


--Good Luck on AR!  Be sure that the teachers are very observant of students
testing in the classroom.  If a teacher does not care, cheating is a breeze.
A sign-in sheet is a good deterent.  If a student consistently fails (goes
for pts. and tries to get lucky), I take their name off classroom computers
and they must test in the library only.  Also, if the 5 computers in the
library are in close proximity to one another, do not let the students sit
too close and absolutely no talking at the computers during testing.

Amy Shankles
Media Specialist
Flat Rock School
Flat Rock, AL

hi jan,
      my school of 982 fifth and sixth graders use AR.  Each homeroom
has a Macintosh computer in their classroom where the students can take
tests at their own discretion.  the reading teachers load the kids'
names and their passwords onto the respective computer.  i believe most
of the teachers allow the students to come up with their own passwords
and of course, keep a printout of such on file.  when the students
reach a certain amount of points they are awarded prizes that are kept
in the library.  passing a first test they receive a bookmark, pencil
or eraser of their choice.  10 points gives them a McDonald's
certificate that we had donated to the school; 30 points they get a
paperback book; 50 points they get a hat or t-shirt that says "Pleasant
Valley Reading Bears" and 70 points they get three books of tickets to
a local amusement park.  these prizes are funded through our reading
department with the exception of the paperback books.   those i budget
for each year in my library book budget.
     in the library each book that is in the AR program for which we DO
own the test, we have placed a green dot on the top of the spine for
easy identification.  we have recently invested in the blue AR book
stickers from the company that allow you to record points, test #, etc.
 going back now to place those labels on the books is a different
story...it takes a lot of time and we hope to have our volunteers next
year get on this endeavor!
     i do not award any prizes to any student without a printout of
points from the computer along with initials from their reading
teacher.  this helps somewhat on cheating.  we have discovered however,
that some of the kids will read the same book twice (once in fifth and
then again in sixth) and get points each year.  keeping their printouts
in their portfolios was suggested, however, most teachers did not agree
on the idea.
     this program was already in place when i took this position.  it
has benefits and concerns.  it does take alot of time to get it to the
point that you feel it is manageable.
     good luck and if i can be of further help just let me know.

monica astorino
pleasant valley school district
brodheadsville, pa

Welcome to the boxed in world of AR.  Anyway, make the best of it.  Here are
my hints, for whatever they are worth:
1.Assuming you are automated and have patron #'s, make your students AR
passwords the same as their library patron #s.  We don't want to overtax
their brains on nonesense.
2.You will have to decide, based on your amount of tech help, and teacher
support, who is responsible for maintaining the database of patrons and their
homeroom teachers, etc.  It is easy but time consuming to be the only one
responsible for updating the student records.
3.Incentives are very important to the success of the program.  Middle school
is much more challenging than elementary school.  Think of food...can you
canvas the community for free fries, icecreams, whatever for certain amount
of points?  No homework passes are another good one that seems to work .
4.Promote promote promote.  If your school is typical, you will get lots of
resistence from the classroom teachers.  In my experience, it is the
classroom teacher who really makes or breaks the AR program.  You can
facilitate it by purchasing the books, making them accessible, and by
offering rewards, but the teachers must give the students the opportunity to
test, frequently.
Good luck!  AR is a great adjunct, IMHO.  Hope it doesn't take over your
total program...

Sherry Wilk
Media Specialist on vacation?
Frank C. Martin Elem.
Miami, Fl.

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