The introduction of the Accelerated Reader programme at Wayland Academy Norfolk has seen students’ reading take off: since September, students have read a staggering 42 million words between them, with 5 students having surpassed a million words each.
This is the first academic year in which three full year groups at the academy (students in Years 7, 8 and 9) have participated in Accelerated Reader. Each time a student finishes a book they take an online quiz about what they have read, which both tests their understanding and provides an ongoing record of how many books and words they have read.
Accelerated Reader takes account of the level of difficulty of the books, and students work with teachers to set and achieve personalised reading targets.
In addition to the satisfaction of seeing their progress tracked and recorded in this way, students at Wayland Academy Norfolk also earn credits for each book they read. Accumulated credits can then be exchanged for a range of gift items provided by the academy, such as stationary items, headphones, raffle tickets and footballs.
The introduction of Accelerated Reader at Wayland Academy Norfolk has significantly increased the overall amount of reading that students are doing. One indicator of this comes from book loans from the school library, which have more than tripled in the space of a year: 1,778 books were loaned in November 2016, compared to 490 the previous November.
Crucially, the Accelerated Reader data shows that students are improving their reading age. For example, Year 8 students on average have improved their reading age by 10 months in the 7 chronological months from September.
This accelerated reading progress is vitally important, as most of Wayland Academy Norfolk’s students (74pc of current Year 8s) started high school with a reading age below their chronological reading age; and 41pc started their secondary education with a reading age more than 2 years behind their chronological reading age.
The five students to have surpassed one million words read this academic year are Year 7 students Freddy Strange and Bridie Stratton, Year 8 students Jude Poole and James Gavin, and Year 9 student Josh Gore.
Year 9 student Josh Gore says he was motivated by the challenge of reaching the one million word target, commenting:
“I’m happy to get it because I really wanted to do it. I got the million words last year and I wanted to get it two years in a row. A couple of years ago my favourite books were the Skulduggery Pleasant series, things like that, and now I’m just exploring different books and seeing which ones are better.”
Reflecting on how doing more reading has benefitted him, Josh added:
“It’s helped me a lot in my writing, because it’s helped me to understand more about different words you could use, how you can phrase things, I’ve learned different ways to put things. It’s also helped me to be more creative, it gives me ideas. I write a lot of stories. After I’d done a bit of writing in English, and then I’d done a bit more reading, I thought I might write my own book.”
Glen Allott, Principal, Wayland Academy Norfolk, commented:
“We are delighted with the positive impact that Accelerated Reader is having on students’ reading ability, which has so many knock-on benefits in terms of their wider learning. You only have to look at how busy our school library is, every day of the week, to see the increase in students’ reading. The students love the challenge of the quizzes and reaching their individual reading targets, whilst from a teaching perspective we can see how the accelerated improvement in reading ages is really helping our students.”