selections-teachers-trust Selections Teachers Trust Link
free-protective-jackets Free Protective Jackets About Us
flexible-payment-options Flexible Payment Options Payment Options
basket-save-and-share Basket Save & Share Basket Save and Share

Accelerated Reader™ — A Time-Saving Start-Up Guide

Thinking of Accelerated Reader™ (AR) for motivating, monitoring and managing pupils’ independent reading but not sure where to begin or how it will impact your existing library resources? Look no further!

We can provide you with answers to FAQs and offer a range of carefully selected book collections so you can ensure your library is well stocked and provides enough books to offer a real choice to pupils at each level whether they are keen readers looking for something new and exciting to dive into next, or struggling and possibly reluctant needing just the right super-readable text to hook them in. All libraries should be offering great diverse and inclusive books which are brilliant reads, and books can be a wonderful way to support and promote well-being and empathy.

If you’re interested in saving time and money setting up or developing your AR library, read on…

Why choose Accelerated Reader™?

AR is currently the most popular software used to practice and develop reading in UK schools. It is a management and monitoring programme, developed by Renaissance Learning, that can be used with individual pupils, targeted groups, or as a whole class or school approach. The programme provides tools that quickly ascertain the reading level, reading age and comprehension level of each pupil and provides personalised goals that help to monitor progress, provide feedback and keep learners on track. AR aims to foster independent reading by allowing children to self-select books from recommendations that take the pupil’s interest and reading level into account. Renaissance Learning assesses and assigns an AR Book level and book points to thousands of newly published books each year.  Schools, pupils and parents can look up the Level of individual books using the AR Bookfinder. A successful AR programme requires the provision of sufficient books for pupils to have a choice of titles at each level to foster reading for pleasure and progression.  A whole-school approach might include library development, teacher training, allocated time for pupils to read during the school day as well as the monitoring provided by the software. 

Pupils read a book, take an online quiz and get immediate feedback.  High-quality reading practice fuels reading growth, whilst the quizzes monitor comprehension, and vocabulary and build skills mastery. Monitoring software not only guides the level of difficulty for book choices but also encourages pupils to read independently and more importantly at their own pace and level. The service is offered to schools on a subscription basis by Renaissance Learning. Teacher training is offered as part of the programme but schools will need to develop their own range of books at each level, to support pupils’ choices.  

What determines the suitability of a book for a pupil?

Book Level: Book levels are assigned to titles using the ATOS readability formula. ATOS book levels are consistent and reliable when measuring text complexity. The formula uses the most important factors that determine the complexity of the text and uses the largest data sample of its kind in the world to achieve its results. ATOS is also an extremely useful guide for teachers, librarians, parents and guardians.

Book Points: Every title that has an AR Reading Practice Quiz is given a point value. AR points are worked out using the difficulty of the book (ATOS readability level) and the length of the book (number of words). Readers earn points depending on how well they do on the quiz. For example, a reader who takes a 5-question quiz on a book worth 1 point will earn 1 point for 5 correct answers (100%). A reader who reads a book worth 5 points and takes a 10-question quiz will earn 5 points for 10 correct answers (100%). For quizzes with 3, 5, or 10 questions, a child needs to pass the quiz with a score of 60% or higher to earn points. For quizzes with 20 questions, a child needs to pass with a score of 70% or higher. A portion of a book’s points will be earnt depending on how well they do in the quiz.

Interest Level: The interest level attached to the book is based on the book’s content including theme, characterisation and plot. To help you choose the most appropriate books for your pupils, there are four interest levels: LY relates to lower years, MY middle years, MY+ and UY upper years.  These correlate to the following chronological ages:

Lower Years: ages 5–8

Middle Years: ages 9–13

Middle Years+: ages 12 and over

Upper Years: age 14 and over

How are reading levels initially assessed?

The online Star Reading Assessment gives pupils their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This supports pupils and their teachers to find appropriate reading materials for them.

Star Assessments provide data showing the progress made by each student and if they are on track to meet expected standards in the learning pathway. Star Assessments also provide a personalised learning plan for each student, helping to inform the next teaching steps.

Children continue to take online quizzes after they have read a book and progress through the AR levels in response to their quiz scores. It’s also important to note that AR is one of many tools used for reading measurement and growth in schools and is not directly linked to Book Bands. For information on Book Band Levels please see: A Guide to Book Bands.

How can Accelerated Reader™ be used to support struggling, reluctant or low attaining pupils?

There is much evidence of AR working very successfully as an intervention. One example is the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) manager, Beth Khalil, at Thorp Academy, Tyne and Wear. Beth has this to say about the AR programme - “We initially introduced Accelerated Reader because we needed a way to measure progress through reading skills. We had heard of its success in other schools and decided to implement it through the English department. It has proved to be a positive way to promote reading for pleasure as well as building on vocabulary skills and engaging the students through literacy.”

Over time AR had been fully embedded into the literacy policy of the Academy. Data collected from RS and STAR Reading Assessments were used to demonstrate progress and inform further learning strategies. “We monitor and adjust the AR lessons regularly to show we are taking action to improve reading and literacy standards. For Ofsted inspections, we have provided the data we get from the STAR Reading tests. Students are tested four times per year, allowing us to track their progress each term.”

All quiz scores and progress towards agreed targets are tracked by the teachers and LRC staff. They listen to students reading from the books that they have picked and give individual help where it is needed. Because students receive regular feedback, teachers are given opportunities to praise and reward students for their continued successes. It also gives teachers the chance to discuss with their students what they have been reading and what they would like to move on to next.

Students are a lot more engaged with their reading and top readers are given bookmarks, posters and certificates. There is now a big culture of reading at Thorp Academy and a record number of students have received reward stamps for passing quizzes at 90% or above. Over 2,000 books were borrowed in the one-half term! Beth, and the AR programme, have created a fantastic reading culture at the academy - “The LRC is used much more for personal reading during social times, as well as during lessons. Students are getting used to quizzing regularly and independently outside their AR classes.”

AR can be used by a teacher to help guide struggling readers to books that they can read and understand more successfully. Once the pupil has completed a Star Assessment they will be given a ZPD score. Using the  AR Bookfinder  the pupil or teacher can search for titles in that range, and combine this information with interest age and area of interest.  School library stocks could also be stickered with the AR Levels to aid the selection of appropriate titles.

For pupils who experience difficulties with reading, text selection is important. Engaging books geared to the interest age of the pupil with a low word count can help enthuse reluctant readers and develop their skills and confidence.

Pandora Book’s AR pack for Struggling Readers in KS2 ensures low ability or reluctant readers are not left with books that are too young for them just because the AR level is right. These books have a MY interest level to engage readers in key stage 2 and AR level of 1.2 to 4, to reflect the accessibility of these texts.

Can I use existing library stock for Accelerated Reader™?

Yes. When schools implement the programme, they don’t need to purchase specific sets of books upfront but can often combine existing stocks with top-up titles to ensure a variety of books are available. They will also need to ensure they have a range of texts at different levels so children have variety and breadth to select books that appeal to them with appropriate challenge. If pupils have access to a large range of texts, they can read books they’re interested in and are more likely to engage with, and sustain, a growth reading habit.

Make your budget go even further by determining the AR levels of the books you already have, extending your existing library and only buying the books you need. Renaissance Learning offers a money and time-saving audit service to subscribed schools making this possible in just three easy steps:

1. Scan: Hire a scanner and upload a CSV. file with the isbns of your books.

2. Level: The AR Book Guide will generate a list of matched AR titles and levels, including the Title, Author, interest level, book level, points and quiz number for each of these books. You will also have the opportunity to purchase stickers for each of your existing books which will display their AR level.

3. Label: Once the match is complete, BookGuide will allow the user to immediately print to L7159 sized labels. If you choose to purchase labels from Renaissance then they will be branded – but that is entirely optional.

Update and Invest

If you require assistance in choosing collections, do contact our expert team for advice. We can revise your current stock, give you tailor-made advice to suggest the best book collections to ensure breadth of book and interest levels, a balance between fiction/non-fiction and subject-specific themes needed to complete your AR library.

Where can I find Accelerated Reader™ books for my school?

AR uses published books, levelled by a computer algorithm to assess the complexity of the language. This allows schools to select from a vast range of books published by a wide range of publishers including well-known authors and classic stories.

We offer AR collections that are ideal to top up or build library stocks, ensuring a range of titles to support a growing reading culture in school. All our AR packs contain a copy of each listed book and are supplied with a sticker to be placed on or inside the book — detailing the quiz number, interest level, book level and book points. Every book also comes with a FREE protective jacket, prolonging the life of your books and helping your budget stretch further.

Our primary school reading experts hand-select books that are suited to the emotional maturity of the child as well as their reading ability and offer a range of collections by year group. We also carefully screen the content, so any books we choose are always primary school friendly and of the highest quality on the market today. We offer specific collections to help teachers easily inject a strong selection of brilliant diverse and inclusive reads and books to support wellbeing and encourage empathy.

AR Collections  

How do I find new Accelerated Reader™ books so my library stays up to date?

The Bookfinder tool from Accelerated Reader is a useful tool for this. Use advanced search and filter by Quiz Released. You can browse titles based on when they were quizzed (however a lot of books that have not yet been quizzed do pop up). Pandora books also offer two brilliant collections of new and newly quizzed titles:

The Freshest AR Books for Lower Years

The Freshest AR Books for Middle Years


Accelerated Reader™ — A Time-Saving Start-Up Guide

Thinking of Accelerated Reader™ (AR) for motivating, monitoring and managing pupils’ independent re..

Read more
Latest News
and Offers