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Accelerated Reader

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Accelerated Reader
Developer(s)Renaissance Learning
Initial release1986; 38 years ago (1986)[1]
Operating systemWindows, macOS

Accelerated Reader (AR) is an educational tool that is used to monitor and manage a student's independent reading practice and reading comprehension in the English and Spanish languages respectively. This program works by assessing the student's performance and awarding points towards educational and individual reading goals.[2]



ATOS is a readability formula designed by Renaissance Learning.[3]

Books with quizzes in Accelerated Reader are assigned an ATOS readability level. This ATOS score is used by AR, in combination with a book length, to assign a point value to each book.[4] It can also be used by students to help choose books of appropriate reading levels.[3]


Accelerated (going up to 7th grade) Reader (AR) quizzes are available on fiction and non-fiction books, textbooks, supplemental materials, and magazines. Most are in the form of reading practice quizzes, although some are curriculum-based with multiple subjects.

Many of the company's quizzes are available in an optional recorded voice format for primary-level books, in which the quiz questions and answers are read to the student taking the quiz. These quizzes are designed to help emerging English and Spanish readers take the quizzes without additional assistance.

The Renaissance Place version of Accelerated Reader also includes quizzes designed to practice vocabulary.[5] The quizzes use words from books, and are taken after the book has been read. Bookmarks can be printed out that display the vocabulary words so that, as students read, they can refer to the bookmark for help. The quizzes keep track of the words learned.


  • Reports are generated on demand to help students, teachers, and parents monitor student progress. Reports are available regarding student reading, comprehension, amount of reading, diagnostic information, and other variables. Customizable reports available in the Renaissance Place edition can also report district-level information.[6]

The TOPS Report (The Opportunity to Praise Students) reports quiz results after each quiz is taken. Diagnostic Reports identify students in need of intervention based on various factors. The Student Record Report is a complete record of the books the student has read.

Evaluation research[edit]

A number of studies have been conducted regarding the effectiveness of using Accelerated Reader in the classroom. The following two studies were reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse and were found to meet their research standards.[7]

In a study, 1,665 students and 76 teachers were surveyed (grades K-8) from 12 schools in Memphis, Tennessee. Some teachers were randomly selected to use Accelerated Reader and others continued the regular curriculum without using the software. Students in classrooms with Accelerated Reader demonstrated gains. Many of the teachers who used the software responded positively to it and indicated that they would continue to use the software.[8]

In another study, Nunnery, Ross, and McDonald assessed the reading achievement of students in grades 3–8. They assessed the effects of individual, classroom, and school factors that impact reading achievement. Those in Accelerated Reader classrooms still outperformed students in control classrooms. Students with learning disabilities in very high implementation classrooms did not suffer from their disabilities as much as similar students in low or no implementation classrooms.[9]

Other evaluations[edit]

In a controlled evaluation, Holmes and Brown found that two schools using the School Renaissance program achieved statistically significantly higher standardized test scores compared with two comparison schools that only used the Renaissance program in a limited way.[10] Because so many schools in the United States are using Accelerated Reader, it was difficult for the authors of this study to find two schools in Georgia that were not already using Accelerated Reader. The authors noted:

In all nine comparisons involving standardized test scores in reading, language arts, and mathematics, the Renaissance schools' children outperformed the contrast school's children. It can only be concluded that the Renaissance program was highly effective in raising the performance of these elementary students.

— [10]

In 2003, Samuels and Wu found that, after six months, third and fifth grade students who used Accelerated Reader demonstrated twice the gain in reading comprehension as those that did not use Accelerated Reader.[11][12] The comparison students completed book reports suggesting that delayed feedback through book reports is not as useful as the immediate feedback provided by Accelerated Reader. In another study, Samuels and Wu found students in Accelerated Reader classrooms in a Minnesota elementary school, after controlling for the amount of time spent reading each day, outperformed students in control classrooms.[13][14]

Researcher Keith Topping completed many studies on Accelerated Reader that found the software to be an effective assessment for deciding curriculum.[15][16]


Renaissance Learning, the developer of Accelerated Reader, has explicitly outlined the primary purpose of the program as an assessment tool to gauge whether students have read a book,[4] not to assess higher-order thinking skills, to teach or otherwise replace curriculum, to supersede the role of the teacher, or to provide an extrinsic reward. Jim Trelease however, describes Accelerated Reader, along with Scholastic's Reading Counts!, as "reading incentive software" in an article exploring the pros and cons of the two software packages.[17] Stephen D. Krashen, in a 2003 literature review, also asserts that reading incentives is one of the aspects of Accelerated Reader. He reiterates prior research stating that reading for incentives does not create long-term readers. [18]

Renaissance Place does include recognizing setting and understanding sequence as examples of higher-order thinking.[19] Turner and Paris's study explore the role of classroom literacy tasks in which students take end-of-book tests called Reading Practice Quizzes that are composed of literal-recall questions to which there is only one answer. Turner and Paris would classify these quizzes as "closed tasks." They concluded that open-ended tasks are more supportive of literacy growth in the future.[20]

Florida Center for Reading Research, citing two studies that support the product, noted both the lack of available books in a school's library and the lack of assessment of "inferential or critical thinking skills" as weaknesses of the software. Their guide also noted a number of strengths of the software, including its ability to motivate students and provide immediate results on students' reading habits and progress.[21]

Use of the program has been criticized by Scholastic as preventing children from reading from a variety of difficulty levels. A PowerPoint from Scholastic, made in 2006, indicates that 39% of children between the ages of five and ten have read a Harry Potter novel, with 68% of students in that age range having an interest in reading or re-reading a Harry Potter book.[22] For example, the ATOS reading level of {Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone}, is 5.5 (with ATOS numbers corresponding to grade levels). This would indicate that students below that grade range may not be able to read and comprehend the book. Since teachers, parents and student use readability levels to select books, this may discourage students from reading the book, as the student is under pressure to earn Accelerated Reader points during the school year, although students can take tests and earn points for books at any ATOS level.


  1. ^ https://www.renaissance.com/2021/03/05/blog-35-years-accelerated-reader/
  2. ^ "Accelerated Reader Family Resource". Renaissance. Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  3. ^ a b "ATOS Readability". 2012-02-20. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  4. ^ a b "The Design of Accelerated Reader Assessments" (PDF). Renaissance Learning. 1 (1): 1–8. April 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2005 – via Wayback Archive.
  5. ^ "Accelerated Reader 360 - Close reading practice | Renaissance". 2018-03-13. Archived from the original on 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  6. ^ "Accelerated Reader Overview - Sample Reports". 2007-01-04. Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  7. ^ "WWC | Accelerated Reader". ies.ed.gov. Retrieved 2024-03-18.
  8. ^ Ross, Steven M.; Nunnery, John; Goldfeder, Elizabeth (April 2004). "A Randomized Experiment on the Effects of Accelerated Reader/Reading Renaissance in an Urban School District: Final Evaluation Report" (PDF). Center for Research in Educational Policy, The University of Memphis.
  9. ^ Nunnery, John A.; Ross, Steven M.; McDonald, Aaron (November 16, 2009). "A Randomized Experimental Evaluation of the Impact of Accelerated Reader/Reading Renaissance Implementation on Reading Achievement in Grades 3 to 6". Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (Jespar) (Website). 11: 1–18. doi:10.1207/s15327671espr1101_1. S2CID 73699446. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  10. ^ a b Holmes, C.T., & Brown, C.L. (2003). A Controlled Evaluation of a Total School Improvement Process, School Renaissance. Technical Report. Athens, GA: University of Georgia.
  11. ^ "papers". 2005-04-19. Archived from the original on 19 April 2005. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  12. ^ Samuels, S. Jay; Wu, Yi-Chen. "The Effects of Immediate Feedback on Reading Achievement" (PDF). Department of Educational Psychology. 1 (1): 1–20. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 April 2006 – via Wayback Archive.
  13. ^ Samuels & Wu (2004) Archived March 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine research paper (PDF).
  14. ^ Wu, Yi-Chen; Samuels, S. Jay. "How the Amount of Time Spent on Independent Reading Affects Reading Achievement: A Response to the National Reading Panel" (PDF). Department of Educational Psychology. 1 (1): 1–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 March 2007 – via Wayback Archive.
  15. ^ "Learning Information Systems". 2005-09-15. Archived from the original on 15 September 2005. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  16. ^ "Reading Online - Formative Assessment of Reading Comprehension by Computer". 2005-02-09. Archived from the original on 9 February 2005. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  17. ^ "Handbook: Chpt 5, p.3". 2006-01-03. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  18. ^ "The (Lack of ) Experimental Evidence Supporting the Use of Accelerated Reader". 2005-11-05. Archived from the original on 5 November 2005. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  19. ^ "Literacy Skills Quizzes" (PDF). 2012-09-05. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  20. ^ Turner, Julianne; Paris, Scott G (May 1995). "How Literacy Tasks Influence Children's Motivation for Literacy". The Reading Teacher. 48 (8): 662–673. JSTOR 20201530.
  21. ^ "Florida Center for Reading Research / Accelerated Reader" (PDF). 2006-02-10. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2006. Retrieved 2022-10-17.
  22. ^ "Kids and Family Reading Report Harry Potter: The Power of One Book". Scholastic. July 2006. Retrieved 2023-05-17.

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