This morning I received a PING on my phone that the blog had for I think the first time ever been linked to another post. I was excited because it was one of my favorite posts “Someone Get Me a Donut”, yet another journey to the top of the hill that I will die on regarding the practice of computerized reading assessment being viewed as a good tool in building readers. The blog post on Mr.Bright’s Blog links to various posts about the use of AR in the classroom and I am honored that mine was included among names like Donalyn Miller-The Book Whisperer. I wanted to take some time and respond and I figured that the blog comment section might be a bit short for the thoughts I have in response to the blog.
Because Star/AR testing is purchased we should use it in a balanced way.
I get this thinking, occasionally teachers do not have enough of a voice to stand up against their schools or districts in ending this policy of using a computer to do the job a teacher can do, and do better. Yes it takes more time, yes we have a lot on our plate already but honestly, there is not much more important than standing up for our kids. A computer can’t tell if kids are having a bad day, it can’t answer their questions for clarification, it can’t have a conversation. Maybe it organizes their mistakes in a nice neat report with a trendline but the trend I am worried about is fewer kids reading because some test they plodded their way through told them they are not a strong reader.
AR leads some to become Lifelong Readers…
I think this is a common argument that I worry if let to percolate with the general public we develop more advocates for a system that does more harm than good. I believe the mindset when it comes to reading should not be is a program proven to harmful to many is ok for one that we should still use the program. Incentives might catch reluctant readers, AR tests do not. If you want to help a student with reaching a goal find them a good book, give them more time to read. They need a prize at the end of a book? fine let them set a goal, read the book and TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT. Then give them some gold star or a point or whatever. Individually set goals that are reached deserve celebration we don’t need a program for that.
You will learn more that matters in a 5-minute conversation about a book with a student than you ever will looking at a trend line on a star test or the points earned on an AR test. A trend line cannot tell you what they are curious about, what their favorite moment was or their opinion on how the story ends. These are the things lifelong readers talk about, this is how they stay accountable to you, by talking to you.
I will never grow tired of this conversation regarding AR. I appreciate Mr.Bright and his post that presents the thoughts of a teacher grappling with how to let the building of passionate readers and ones compliant with the system of AR exist as one. I do not think it is possible and am not willing to risk what an experiment to find the answer could bring to the reading culture I am trying to build.
Thanks, Mr.Bright for the conversation.