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Thanks to all of my fellow LM_NETters who came through with a lot of wonderful
ideas for motivating kids to read using AR - not discouraging them!  Here goes:

<<<We are taking a different approach this year to AR.  Teachers are
assigning goals to their students based on their reading level and the
amount of time they are reading daily.  Our "WAll of Fame"  will show
students who have reached  a percentage of their goal. We will post their
name when they have reached 25% of their goal, 50%, 75%, 100% and special
rewards for those who go above their goal.  This helps to not embarrass
the 5th grader who won't be able to read 20 point books and get lots of
points.  His goal may be 10 points if he is at a low reading level but he
should be able to reach his goal.  It also helps encourage those who
reach their goal to keep reading.>>>

<<<Our students' scores are posted in the classroom only, we post the classroom
scores for the school to see, along with the top readers in each grade.  I
like the idea of posting percentages instead of actual points.  Let me know
if you come up with something. TIA.>>>

<<<Perhaps the teachers could post the accumulated points (if they're set
on doing this) with coded numbers in front of it, assigned to each
student...that way, only the student knows which one is theirs, unless they
choose to share it.>>>

<<<AR has a goal setting formula...there are three parts to it...percent
correct, average book level and points. Honor those kids who are achieving
some or all of their goals.>>>

<<<This sounds like familiar ground. I have a fifth grade teacher that has
wanted points competition since we started the program two years ago. We have
worked long and hard at getting students to accept their ZPD as "okay for me"
but still they do notice the difference between .5 and 5.
We have found a competition formula that seems to be working well - I have
writers cramp from signing 60 passing TOS reports today.
We are having a class competition between 4th and 5th grade classes and one
for third grade classes to see which class can read the most books this year.
Those with lower reading levels can read just as many books as those with
high reading levels and doing it on a class level spotlights not individuals
but class effort. I have students being helpful and congratulatory to
classmates when they pass quizzes...course they also like to moan when one
from another class passes but it is all good natured. Our readers and
nonreaders seem to balance out pretty well classroom to classroom. Of course
there is no perfect. It so much depends on teacher rapport and promotion of
the program.
Nonetheless, our students are reading more...Since July when the new school
year started we have a 4th grade class of 32 with more lows than highs that
have successfully passed 149 quizzes at their reading levels! That kind of
reading is unheard of at our low income school with many Hispanics, but it's

<<<AR even says this is a bad idea and that what should be used to measure
progress and success is improvement in the individual child's Zone of
Proximal Development or reading level.  Each child, according to AR, should
set a goal for improvement with his teacher and work within that.  No
points.  Points are self-defeating -- I've seen so many kids waste all their
checkout time using points as the criteria for book selection or they check
out a book that's beyond their comprehension and fail a test or they make
their points by taking only 1-pt. fiction tests and never make any gains in
their reading or comprehension.  It becomes a game rather than something
that improves their reading or their sense of pleasure in reading.
Good luck.  Our elementary teachers had a "wall of fame" (I think for a lot
of kids it was actually a wall of shame) for awhile showing points -- a
parent complained and it was pulled.  Hooray.  It demeans those kids who are
trying but having difficulty. >>>

<<<I'm not sure what the laws are in your state, but I'm quite sure that in
states privacy laws prohibit posting of personal information about students.
Perhaps if you look into that aspect of it, you'll have more success.>>>

You may suspect after reading my message that I feel very strongly about
this, and you'd be right! grin. Here are my experiences/opinions about AR.
AR, if administered correctly, will bring results beyond your highest
expectations. But just counting points is not the way to go. Look at your
purpose in doing this program; you want to motivate every level reader to
improve. So you offer a "reward" to 5th grade students for earning 10
points. Student A reads on a 6th grade level and is a wonderful student.
This student earns 10 points in one day. Motivated? No, the "reward" is a
joke. Student B is reading on a 2nd grade level. It would take student B
about a month to do what student A did in one day. Motivated? No, frustrated
and probably will give up without making even 5 points. So what's the
 The AR Company has the answer and I think it is brilliant. I learned it at
their workshops. I took the full day workshop, then 2 years later I had some
classroom teachers take the full day and I took the 2-day advanced workshop.
Expensive, but would have been worth it at twice the price! [Don't tell the
AR people that.] Their program, called Reading Renaissance,  rewards by goal
achievement  rather than a standard number of points. Each student has 3
goals, which are individually set based on their reading level not their
age/grade level. They have a book level goal, a point goal, and an average %
correct which AR sets at 85%. A student must reach all 3 goals to be an "AR
goal-getter" [our school's name for the system] and we reward them with a
goal-getters party with entertainment [magician, storyteller, musician,
whatever] and recognition; listed on the "Wall of Fame" etc. Individual
teachers may keep charts in their classroom and reconize steps: 25% of goal,
50% of goal, etc.
It is a lot easier and much less work than it sounds. You get the book level
from their STAR reading zone, AR provides a chart that tells the number of
points expected for a time period based on reading level and amount of time
spent reading every day, and everybody's % correct is 85. It takes way less
than 1 minute to input a student's goals into the computer. Yes, you put the
info into the computer at the beginning of the grading period and the
computer keeps track of everything for you! Every child is given a goal that
is perfect for them-hard enough to produce academic growth without
I can't say enough for this program. There are more aspects to fine tune for
each student, but you really need to take the training to get it. [The
reading log, status of the class and mini-lessons are a few examples of
other parts of this process.]
Please stick to your guns on this. You are right, just listing points will
"reward" the good readers for what they can already do without doing
anything to make them better and will reinforce the poor readers' belief
that reading just isn't worth it.
OK, I'll put my soapbox away now,
Gail Przeclawski, Media Specialist>>>

<<<Believe it or not, the students don't get embarrassed.  I too had the same
concern last year (my first year at this school) when we posted their
points.  It had been done this way in the past, and everyone just expected
it.  It was never a problem.  Maybe that's just my school, but it seemed to
motivate some to do better regardless of the number of points they earned.
Do what you feel will be best in your situation/school--and good luck!>>>

<<<We have POINT CLUBS. We have a bulletin board for the "5 Point Club." A
bulletin board for the 10 point Club, 15, 25, 35, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200,
250, 300, 350, 400, 450, 500...
When a student is placed in the 5 point club, their 5 point club
certificate  is hung on the 5 point club bulletin board.When they get 10
points, another certificate is put on the 10 point club bulletin board.
etc. That way the students who have more points are recognized, but the
students who aren't advancing as fast kind of get lost in the crowd.
Maybe they could also set a classroom total, and all students can work
towards that goal.
I agree that posting each students points could be detrimental to the
struggling readers.>>>

<<<I have seen this done in the past and they used groups of numbers at the top
and a die cut underneath with the child's name on it, it looks like a graph.
  Would it help the lower groups to have the numbers grouped [1-50] [51-100]
or maybe in groups of twenty [1-20] [21-40]?>>>

<<<I too hate the points.  We look at number of tests passed at 80% or
better.  Still, some teachers demand points.  The students spend all their
time reading for points rather than enjoyment.>>>

<<<It is illegal to post students' grades with their names.  It violates their
privacy rights.  If anything  is posted it would have to be done with ID
numbers or some other method so that kids could not figure out who is who.>>>

<<<I don't use AR, so this is just a guess, but could you use an improvement
As in, I did x% better this month that I did last month?  That way, the kids
just be comparing with themselves.>>>

<<<I post the points in the library- every Friday I print the "top 50 AR
readers" in the school report.  The kids love it and will pore over it looking
for their name, their friends name and ohing and aweing over the # of points a
few of my superstars have.
  The ones who are on the list (we have 500 kids in our AR program) love to
point their name out to their parents.   IF I forget to run it they remind
me!I don't make a big deal about it, but the kids sure like  it.  I run the
entire school, regardless of grade.  It also provides some real world
experience with reading a chart or a table.>>>

<<<We use point clubs instead of posting the exact number of points.
The teachers have posters for each point club 5, 10, 15, 25, 40, 60, 75,
100, 150, 200, 300
Students each have a symbol (dolphin, star, footprint, hand, etc) with name
on it
They move the symbol once a week.  Some move often, some move rarely.  No
one knows exactly how many points anyone has.  It really seems to motivate
them.  Some try to "race" to the end.  Others just don't care.  Others ask
for extra help.  We have teachers that will read with/to our kids and then
they can test.>>>

<<<This is one of the problems with AR, in my view, when the
competitive aspect takes the fun out of it. After all, AR
is one component in a reading program, and it should be
self-driven with encouragement. Anyway, not sure about the
answer to make things fair, but one thing I've seen done is
to have each child set a reasonable goal given existing
reading abilities. Then give rewards based on a percentage
of the goal being reached. Bottom line is, kids become
better readers by reading, as we know, so I think when so
much emphasis is placed on reading levels and constantly
reading at one's maximum ability, it becomes drudgery.

As good as this program can be, it raises many questions
about implementing it.>>>

<<<Our school have used the percentage of their goal of the period (6 wks, 9
wks, or semester).  The percentage is printed on their TOPS after each quiz.
This also is and exerise in graphs and charts.>>>

<<<We have been using AR for a long time and when some teachers made the same
mistake you are talking about it was awful. The kids who weren't good readers
just shut down. What was the point of trying? I think your idea of
percentages, if it HAS to be done
 on a student by student basis, is better.  As far as motivating by
competition, we even tried keeping a point total by classroom, using a picture
of a thermometer to indicate how "hot" reading was in each classroom, but the
teachers didn't like it
 because it made the classrooms with lower reading ability kids look bad.  How
about making a huge chain of construction paper links around the school? Every
time a student passes a test he/she gets to add to the chain. Each link has
the name of the
 student on it, so everyone contributes, even if they can't read as fast as

<<<I suggest you run this by your principal.  Posting grades may be a breach of
student confidentiality.>>>

<<<Our students (grades 2 - 4) take the Star test to establish their reading
range and then individual goals are set and kept in the computer.  We have a
bulletin board sectioned off with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% of goal reached
(more percentages could be put in like 60, 80, 90). The names of the
students are placed on stars or some other cut outs and placed on the board.
As they progress, they move their name up to the next percent.  We do not
post goals or points.  I think that would be very damaging to some of the
lower readers. It's a major accomplishment for some of our students to
aquire 15 points and it's a drop in the bucket for some of the better
readers, but they all can be  recognized using the % instead of number of
points.  Most of our students that are in the lower reading levels do not
want the other students to know their reading range.
We also do not give rewards just based on points.  Rewards are given to all
who reach 100% of their goal what ever it may be.>>>

<<<I can tell you from painful experience that posting points hurts
children's self-esteem more than it motivates them. The teacher's will
probably receive very negative feedback from parents, also.

What about having students work with the teacher to set individual goals
they wish to achieve and then the teacher could post whether or not they
achieved the goal?>>>

<<<Don't let those teachers post those kinds of points!  Instead, do something
on the number of students who have met their AR goals:  what percent scored
%80 or above, or is almost making his point challenge.>>>

<<<Obviously your teachers don't understand it is not merely the number of
points that is important.  If students are reaching the individual goal sets
by conferencing and STAR reports etc., then that is more important.  I would
rather see certification goals posted as being reached!>>>

<<<The goal setting is what's important!  Teachers and
students should set goals together.  This is a part of
the AR Management system.  If the student reaches
his/her goal each quarter, month, or whatever, then
that child's name should be listed as achieving the
goal which was set.  You are right: points will only
discourage the slow reader and the weak reader.

 Another idea is to use the certificate maker which is
a part of the AR program.  Students who achieve
"independent reader", "star reader", or whatever the
categories are (I'm sorry, I'm writing from home and
can't remember the names), have certificates printed
out for them.  These can be posted and then taken home
as they achieve the next reading level.>>>

<<<I usually do not reply to the whole group but this issue I think deserves
discussion and thought from the lisrserv.  I have always been extremely
uncomfortable with displaying charts, etc that essentially rank students
ESPECIALLY at elem. level.   It only serves to increase the self-esteem of
those already confident.  I applaud Stephanie for trying to come up with a
"kinder, gentler" way of encouraging students.  And I am amazed that anyone
teaching young students would not see the damaging effect of what they want
to do.>>>

<<<This sounds like a real problem.  Perhaps pointing out that posting the
points is akin to posting a student's grades?  How about posting the number of
books a student has successfully read and quizzed on at a certain level, say
80-100% correct.  That
 way, the number of books read is the focus, not on which books are worth more
points.  Also, this gives the students who have more difficulty reading and so
must choose the lower pointed books a chance to shine as well.>>>

<<<My district requires parental permission before we are
able to post a student's name and/or picture on the
I would suggest that you discuss that issue with the
teachers involved, and see if you can change a few

<<<We are trying a new approach this year.  We will be rewarding on a % basis,
any student who read a minimum # of required books and maintained a 80% will
be rewarded.  We will give them a token prize of a pencil, bookmark, etc.
and their name will go in a grand prize drawing of 5 children from each
classroom to choose the prize their heart desires.  I must admit, we bought
some exciting items. This drawing will take place every grading period.  If
you need more detail ask!  You could display children with 80% or better and
no will know or care their reading level!>>>

<<<Some of our teachers use the goals that the program will keep track of
automatically.  They post what percentage of the goal the student has reached
and when the student reaches 100% of the goal they get a special reward.  Of
course each student has a different goal based on ability.>>>

<<<AR suggests using a reading hall of fame.  Where the students receive
recognition when they reach their individual goal.  If the teachers do not
want to do individual goals, they can punch out a big star for each student
and add a sticker on the student's star whenever they read a book
reguardless of point value.>>>

<<<TEll our teacherst that posting scores in this way is a violation of the
students' privacy.  Would they post the students' grades on the web?  Get
support from your principal and tell them this is not an option!>>>

<<<The teachers at my school set goals-weekly or by grading period- and then
post the results by percentage of met goals. A kid that has a 10 point goal
and a kid that has a 5 point goal may both reach 100% of their individual
goal.  This works really well.>>>

<<<Why not just post a star or sticker for those who have reached their
individual goal?  No one needs to know the goal, just that it was reached.
You have an uncomfortable situation to deal with....good luck!  I hope
something works out that does not keep
 those struggling readers feeling from bad to worse....>>>

I recently moved to a new school district, but at my previous school we
used Reading Renaissance (AR) with great success, so I'll pass on a few
things that worked for us.   We did not allow points to be posted for
the same reasons you mentioned.  I suggest getting your principal's
backing on this & that would help direct the teachers.

We posted progress toward quarterly goals.  For instance each grade
level chose a theme--our 5th grade chose a musical theme & made bulletin
boards with musical staffs in the hallway.  Then each student who
reached their 1st quarter goal earned a musical note on their staff, a
second note for 2nd quarter & so on.  It still created accountability
because students wanted to see their notes on the staffs, so they worked
hard to reach their goals.

We did not offer tangible rewards, but students who reached their goals
had their names announced on the intercomm on the day of the
achievement.  You'd be surprised how much motivation these two small
things provided--visual & verbal recognition throughout the school--they
loved it!

However, no one ever knew if the student whose name was announced or
whose musical note was posted was working on a goal of 50 points or 10
points.  This is especially critical for those low readers who have
lower point goals through no fault of their own (LD, no home enrichment,

In order to recognize those high point earners, we also had a Point Club
Bulletin Board for the school divided into10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 300, 400
point sections.  On it we posted the names of students as they reached
each level.  Most 5th grade students earned at least 50 points (yes,
even the low readers because they got lots of extra assistance) so that
was another way for them to be recognized for their accomplishments.
Then those who really read and earned tons of points could be recognized
also (our top 3 point earners were two 3rd graders & a 4th grader who
all earned over 300 points).  Many critics of AR are concerned this sets
up aggressive competition, but in fact, it actually brought the school
together to cheer individual students on.  We saw so many instances of
students encouraging other students to success & this was even more
effective than the encouragement of teachers & parents.

We also provided plastic bookmark sleeves for everyone at the beginning
of the year filled with a paper bookmark.  As students reached each
level of certification (Independent, Super, Advanced, Star, Classic), we
provided them with a tassle to attach to the bookmark sleeve.  Different
colors were assigned to represent different levels.  The students loved
this, yet it was not expensive & was recognition that fit the task
accomplished rather than food, trinkets, etc.  These bookmarks were very
treasured by all and ensured that the students were showing appropriate
growth in the type of book read (ex: picture books to pre-chapter to
easy chapters to more difficult chapter books).  It emphasized quality
rather than just point quantity.

Hopefully, you can convince your teachers that methods like these are
more motivating than  publically posting personal point goals, etc.  I'd
definitely suggest educating your principal & getting him/her on board.
Otherwise, you'll be fighting an uphill battle.  (He/she can also
provide the funds for the bulletin boards, booksmarks, tassles, etc.
which leaves your library funds free for books.)>>>

<<<I would tell the teachers to be very cautious about posting the scores. We
have had a lawsuit in our state concerning students checking other
students' papers, thus, knowing what kinds of grades their classmates are
making. Now, we have to be very careful about posting students' work in the
hallway, passing out papers upside down so the grade isn't exposed, not
letting students pass out papers, etc.>>>

Stephanie L. Fiedler, M.L.S.
Media Coordinator
Swift Creek Elementary School
5601 Tryon Road
Raleigh, NC 27606
919.233.4327 / fax 919.233.4344 / sfiedler@wcpss.net

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