Proposing Alternatives to Accelerated Reading

Kelvin Ku, assistant editor

Reading is not a hobby most teenagers in the world have but nevertheless, it is crucial in developing a person’s literacy skills.

The American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics taken in 2004 shows that around 28 percent of Americans age 15 and older read for pleasure. 

Accelerated reading is a system widely used in the public school system all over America to ensure that students continue to read. The AR system seems to be reaching this goal, however there are some flaws that need to be fixed.

Younger people usually desire the new and fresh rather than the older “classics.” Newer books often won’t have AR tests, causing a headache for readers interested in more recent books such as Educated by Michelle Obama and Liar Liar by James Patterson. Some students read more than what teachers may expect but AR is unable to show that sometimes.

Despite flaws such as this, a system similar to AR that ensures and rewards students for reading is important for students learning. A possible alternative could be to submit a book report on what is read that fulfills certain criteria. This way students are developing writing and reading skills simultaneously.

Some teachers may be worried that  students may look up summaries of a book and rephrase them but that can be prevented by requiring detailed requirements for a book report. Although, book reports will have certain loopholes through plagiarizing, AR is also prone to unethical behavior from students. Such unethical behavior could be looking up summaries of the book or having your friend that’s already read the book and taken the test tell you the answers.

A requirement  to have a certain amount of in-text citations in the report and to get your parents signature to prove legitimacy that the student is reading the book are both valid measures to ensure legitimacy. By adding requirements as such, a teacher will most likely be able to tell the authenticity of the report. While reading book reports will take teachers more time, it will be worth the effort.

However, this is merely one of many Alternatives to AR.