January 26, 2010

Not that You Needed MORE Reasons to Avoid AR

But here are 18 Reasons Not to Use AR (via Mark Pennington at the TeacherLibrarian Ning).

Last week I posted on some questionable practices regarding the shelving of AR books in school libraries. I didn't even say that many bad things about the program itself, other than to point out some compelling evidence that it's not really effective. Even Jim Trelease, who had a relatively balanced view of the program in his Read-Aloud Handbook now sees "more negatives than positives" and collects some damning evidence as well.

I got a lot of comments for that post, so here's some more meat to chew on.

The original article by Mr. Pennington has much more description, so do check it out, bookmark it, and share it around. Some of the arguments are stronger than others, but you can see that in these economically tight times, the expense of AR is hardly justified when the benefits are questionable, so many questions remain, and solid evidence of effectiveness is lacking.

Here's the basic list:

Book Selection
1. Using AR tends to limit reading selection to it's own books.
2. Using AR tends to limit reading selection to a narrow band of readability.
3. Using AR tends to discriminate against small publishing companies and unpopular authors.
4. Using AR tends to encourage some students to read books that most teachers and parents would consider inappropriate for certain age levels.

Reader Response
5. Using AR tends to induce a student mindset that "reading is a chore," and "a job that has to be done."
6. Using AR tends to replace the intrinsic rewards of reading with extrinsic rewards.
7. Using AR tends to foster student and/or teacher competitiveness, which can push students to read books at their frustration reading level or create problems among students.
8. Using AR tends to turn off some students to independent reading.
9. Using AR tends to turn some students into cheaters.

AR is Reductive
10. Using AR tends to supplant portions of established reading programs.
11. AR tends to train students to accumulate facts and trivia as they read in order to answer the multiple choice recall questions.
12. Using AR tends to take up significant instructional time.
13. Using AR tends to reduce the amount of time that teacher spend doing read-alouds and teaching class novels.
14. Using AR tend to make reading into an isolated academic task.
15. Using AR tends to drain resources that could certainly be used for other educational priorities.
16. Using AR tends to minimize the teaching and instructional practice in diagnostically-based reading strategies.
17. Using AR tends to limit differentiated instruction.

Research Base
18. Although a plethora of research studies involving AR are cited on the Renaissance Learning website, the research base is questionable at best.

Thanks, Mr. Pennington, for more ammo!