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Program Evaluation

Tiana Tibbs
Billie Joe Sutton

FRIT 8435
DR. C. Hodges
Spring 2011
Georgia Southern University

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary………………………………….. 3

Introduction……………………………………...…… 6

Focus of the Evaluation………………………………. 8

Brief Overview of Evaluation Plan and Procedures….10

Presentation of Evaluation Results………………….. 11

Conclusions and Recommendations…………………15

Appendices………………………………………….. 18

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Executive Summary
The purpose of this evaluation is to examine the Accelerated Reader, better known as AR. Each

school system in Georgia is more than likely familiar with the program. Each book from the

school library is worth a certain amount of points. At certain intervals during the year the

teachers set point goals for the students in his/her classroom. The students then take tests on

each book read and are awarded the appropriate points assigned to the book and quiz. Based on

this award system, students are eligible to increase the level of difficulty by moving to a higher

book level.

The Accelerated Reader program varies in each school. Some schools offer an incentive

program so that students have the drive to succeed. For example, Howard Middle School in

Macon, Georgia started an incentive program this school year called Reading around the World.

For every ten books a student reads, he/she gets to take a “trip” around the world. Every nine

weeks, there is a celebration where the students get to learn about a country’s culture, eating their

food, learning their language, and having guest speakers from that country to help celebrate their

success.

What we are focusing on is to see if there is a correlation between the numbers of students

participating in the Accelerated Reader program when there is an incentive program in place.

Question: Does an incentive program help increase the number of participants in the

Accelerated Reader program?

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Multiple data sources were used to gather information for the evaluation question. The Reading

around the World’s directors and staff members monitored the student’s activities in the program

through the media center and the program’s data collection materials. This will help monitor the

ratio of students to books, books to tests, and tests to scores of accuracy.

Evaluation findings conclude that since the conception of the Reading around the World

program:

• There has been an increase in participation in reading and circulation of books.

• However, there are still a small number of students who are engaged in reading.

• Embraced and enjoyed by younger students, in particular.

• The older students do not participate in the AR program because it is perceived as an

elementary school program.

• Instead of focusing on AR points, the focus was on reaching the Georgia Performance

Standard of 25 books and AR tests scores of 80% or better.

• AR is a program that requires monitoring to be successful.

• The students that are participating in it for the most part at Howard Middle School are

students who already read on grade level.

Recommendations

• Survey the student body on how the program Reading Around the World has affected

their performance in the Accelerated Reader Program

• Survey older students for suggestions of more age appropriate rewards.

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• Incorporate some type of reading instruction and support for next year so it can be

monitored better.

Therefore, it is the recommendation of this evaluation study that the student perception of the

Reading around the World Incentive program should be combined with an examination of

the overall picture of the Accelerated Reader Program to make it effective and is worthy of

the effort that it requires to administer. This evaluation also recommends that steps be taken

to determine age appropriate incentives for students in older grades. Additional work is

needed with regard in some type of reading instruction and teacher support to help monitor

the Accelerated Reader program to help increase reading growth.

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Introduction

The Accelerated Reader Program was designed by Renaissance Learning, Inc to monitor daily

progress of reading in primary and secondary schools. The primary purpose of the Accelerated

Reader Program is to determine whether or not a child has read a book. This program also

provides additional information to students regarding reading rates, amount of reading, and other

variables related to reading. The Accelerated Reader Program was initiated to help increase

reading practice amongst students and help keep track of their reading growth. Its goal is to help

students reach their reading goal individually. This program is intended to serve those in the

educational setting of K-12.

There are three steps to using the Accelerated Reader Program. First, students choose and read a

book as teachers monitor the reading. Second, students take a quiz. Third, the teacher receives

information that is intended to assist, motivate reading, monitor progress, and target instruction.

The Accelerated Reader Program provides reports regarding reading level and comprehension

skills. Some components of the Accelerated Reader Program includes ATOS, which is a

readability formula that assist with guiding students to books suited to their reading abilities.

Another component of the Accelerated Reader Program are quizzes which are primarily in the

form of reading practice quizzes although some are curriculum-based with multiple subjects and

to practice vocabulary. Reports are also another component to the Accelerated Reader Program.

Reports are generated on demand and help students, teachers, and parents monitor student

progress. Reports ranges from student reading, comprehension, amount of reading, diagnostic

information, and other variables. One of the reports, The Opportunity to Praise Students report

better known as the TOPS Report reports quiz results after each quiz is taken. This allows

students to immediately review specific concepts they had difficulty with. Also Diagnostic

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Reports are available to help students in need of intervention and the Student Record Report that

shows a complete list of books a student has read. Renaissance Learning, Inc does not provide

any incentive programs with the Accelerated Reader Program. However, different schools may

add an incentive program to increase the number of participants.

In 2004, there was a study of 1,665 students and 76 teachers from 11 different schools in

Tennessee ranging from grades K – 6. Many of the students were eligible for free or reduced

lunch. The teachers that were randomly assigned to use the Accelerated Reader program

demonstrated gains amongst their students compared to the students who did not use the software

(Ross, Nunnery, and Goldfeder). Also in another study in 2006, used a hierarchical linear

modeling to assess the reading achievement of students in grades 3 – 6 that incorporated the

effects of individual, classroom, and school variables that impact reading achievement. The

students once again in the Accelerated Reader classrooms outperformed the ones who did not use

Accelerated Reader (Nunnery, Ross, and McDonald).

The primary stakeholders in the Accelerated Reader Program in the educational setting are the

school teachers, students, media specialist, and administration. Other stakeholders in the

program include parents and the community. School teachers primary role will be to make sure

students are reading and taking the Accelerated Reader quizzes and monitoring their progress

using the Accelerated Program software and reports. Students have to use the program by

reading the books based on their ability and taking the quizzes associated with the books. The

media specialist has to make sure that there are Accelerated Reader books available for students

to take and is also the primary overseer of the Accelerated Reader Program in the school. The

administration is stakeholders in this program because their main mission is to have success

amongst their students in anything that they do. Parents have a part in this since it is their child

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that is participating in this program. Success in any educational program will enhance the

community and give it a better reputation.

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Focus of the Evaluation

Through the Accelerated Reading Program staff, they have implemented the Reading Around the

World incentive program for students of Howard Middle School. Howard Middle School is

located in the middle Georgia area in Macon, GA. It is in the Bibb County School District. The

student population is 918 students with about 51% of the students are in the economically

disadvantaged group with 14% of the students have disabilities. The demographics of Howard

Middle School are 5% Asian, 54% Black, 2% Hispanic, 39% White, and 1% Multiracial.

Howard Middle School is currently under its second year as a Title I school.

The primary focus of this evaluation is to collect data and interpret the data to understand how

successful the incentive program, Reading around the World, is at increasing student

participation in the Accelerated Reader program.

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Brief overview of Evaluation Plan and Procedures

To determine the impact of the Howard Middle School’s Reading around the World Incentive

Program, information detailing student’s attitudes in determining if the program was worthwhile

was collected through personal interviews and surveys. The program had never undergone a

formal evaluation before. It was difficult to determine exactly how students felt about the

program.

In order to collect qualitative data relating to the current Accelerated Reader Incentive program,

evaluators provided surveys and questionnaires to current students. Interviews were also

conducted after the administration of an Accelerated Reader Test in the school’s media center.

(Appendix B) Quantitative data was gathered comparing school years with and without the

incentive program.

Questionnaires were distributed to three Howard Middle School administrators, Media Center

Specialist, fifteen parents of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, and thirty teachers

(Appendix C); completed surveys to evaluate stakeholder perceptions of the Reading around the

World Incentive Program. In all, quantitative and qualitative data from 103 individuals

associated with the Howard Middle School Reading around the World Program was accessed in

this program evaluation.

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Presentation of Evaluation Results

Accelerated Reader Participation data were gathered from year to year to determine if the

Reading around the World Incentive program was effective before implementation and after.

The data was used to calculate the number of Accelerated Reader participants per grade level.

Stakeholder surveys and questionnaires were distributed to administrators, media center

specialist, teachers, students, and parents taking part in the Howard Middle School’s Accelerated

Reader Program and Reading around the World Incentive Program.

Howard Middle School’s Accelerated Reader Participation

6th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated
Students Required 25
in AR
books

2009-2010 307 158 31

2010 - 2011 323 183 39*

• In the 2009 – 2010 school year, 158 students out of 307 students participated in

the Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 51% of the 6th grade population. Out of those

158 students, only 31 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 10% of the 6th grade population.

• In the 2010 – 2011 school year, 183 students out of 323 students participated in

the Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 57% of the 6th grade population. Out of those

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183 students, only 39 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 12% of the 6th grade population.

7th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated in
Students Required 25
AR
books

2009 – 2010 294 127 23

2010 – 2011 313 131 30*

• In the 2009 – 2010 school year, 127 students out of 294 students participated in

the Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 43% of the 7th grade population. Out of those

127 students, only 23 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 8% of the 7th grade population.

• In the 2010 – 2011 school year, 131 students out of 313 students participated in

the Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 42% of the 7th grade population. Out of those

131 students, only 30 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 10% of the 7th grade population.

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8th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated in
Students Required 25
AR
books

2009 – 2010 311 97 17

2010 - 2011 301 129 21*

• In the 2009 – 2010 school year, 97 students out of 311 students participated in the

Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 31% of the 8th grade population. Out of those 97

students, only 39 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 5% of the 8th grade population.

• In the 2010 – 2011 school year, 129 students out of 301 students participated in

the Accelerated Reader program. By participating, they read a book and took an

Accelerated Reader test. That is 43% of the 8th grade population. Out of those

129 students, only 21 completed the required Georgia Performance Standard of

reading at least 25 books which makes up 7% of the 8th grade population.

* The current school year is not over yet, therefore, there are some students who

are almost finished completing their 25 required books for the year that were not

included in the numbers.

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Stakeholder Perceptions

The stakeholder data indicates that the Howard Middle School’s Reading around the World

Incentive Program has had a positive impact on student’s motivation to read. That data appeared

to be more positive to those in grade six. Those students in grade seven and eight parents felt

like those students did not take the Reading around the World Incentive Program serious but that

it is a start to trying to do something to increase student motivation to read. They feel like

students respond better to more tangible rewards for something that is not closely monitored.

When surveyed, some of the strengths that were noted that it has put more focus on the

circulation of the books and with the change of focusing on the Accelerated Reader test instead

of the Accelerated Reader points has helped students who felt that they were competing to see

who earned the most points instead of trying to improve reading growth. The media center

specialist stated in the past years before she took over in 2009, that the Accelerated Reader

program was not organized and that it was promoted very little. Only two teachers monitored

the progress of their students with the Accelerated Reader program and those teachers were the

7th and 8th grade Gifted Language Arts teachers who both retired in the end of the 2009-2010

school year. Even though there was little growth since the implementation of the Reading

around the World Incentive Program, one of the weaknesses is to find out what rewards will help

to get more 7th and 8th graders involved. Some feel that the Reading around the World and the

Accelerated Reader Program is too elementary. Also getting the teachers to help monitor and

hold the students accountable if they do not read 25 Accelerated Reader books. The students are

very aware of this and to help change this, the Principal, who is currently in his first year at

Howard Middle School wants to implement some type of instruction and support to increase the

number of participants.

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Conclusions and Recommendations

Having completed this evaluation through participation of the students, parents, and staff, we

make the following conclusion:

Program Strengths

• There has been an increase in participation in reading and circulation of books.

• Embraced and enjoyed by younger students, in particular.

• Instead of focusing on AR points, the focus was on reaching the Georgia Performance

Standard of 25 books and AR tests scores of 80% or better.

Program Weaknesses

• The older students do not participate in the AR program because it is perceived as an

elementary school program.

• There is no type of accountability for students who are not reading what is required.

• The students that are participating in it for the most part at Howard Middle School are

students who already read on grade level instead of the ones who really need to focus on

improvement of reading growth.

Recommendations

• Survey the student body on how the program Reading Around the World has affected

their performance in the Accelerated Reader Program

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• Survey older students for suggestions of more age appropriate rewards.

• Incorporate some type of reading instruction and support for next year so it can be

monitored better.

Therefore, it is the recommendation of this evaluation study that the student perception of the

Reading around the World Incentive program should be combined with an examination of

the overall picture of the Accelerated Reader Program to make it effective and is worthy of

the effort that it requires to administer. This evaluation also recommends that steps be taken

to determine age appropriate incentives for students in older grades. Additional work is

needed with regard in some type of reading instruction and teacher support to help monitor

the Accelerated Reader program to help increase reading growth.

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References

Nunnery, J. A., Ross, S. M. & McDonald, A. (2006). 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),

11(1), 1-18. doi:10.1207/s15327671espr1101_1

Ross, S.M., Nunnery, J., & Goldfeder, E. (2004). A randomized experiment on the effects of

Accelerated

Reader/Reading Renaissance in an urban school district: Preliminary evaluation report.

Memphis, TN: The University of Memphis, Center for Research in Educational Policy.

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/wwc_accelreader_app_101408.pdf

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Appendix A

Howard Middle School’s Accelerated Reader Participation

6th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated
Students Required 25
in AR
books

2009-2010 307 158 31

2010 - 2011 323 183 39*

7th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated in
Students Required 25
AR
books

2009 – 2010 294 127 23

2010 – 2011 313 131 30*

8th Grade Accelerated Reader Participation

Students who
Students who
Total Read the
Year Participated in
Students Required 25
AR
books

2009 – 2010 311 97 17

2010 - 2011 301 129 21*

* The current school year is not over yet, therefore, there are some students who

are almost finished completing their 25 required books for the year that were not

included in the numbers.

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Appendix B

Howard Middle School Accelerated Reader and Reading around the World Program
Student Interview

Do you feel that your score on the Accelerated Reader test reflect your understanding of the
book?

Why do you participate in the Accelerated Reader program?

Have you participated in the Reading around the World Incentive Program?

How do you feel about the Reading around the World Incentive Program?

What is one thing you would do to improve on the current incentive program?

Do you feel like you are competing with other students when you participate in the Accelerated
Reader program?

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Appendix C

Howard Middle School Accelerated Reader and Reading around the World Program

Stakeholder Questionnaire

Please take a moment to give your assessment of the impact of the Reading around the World Incentive
Program at Howard Middle School. Discuss what you believe to be the strong points and the needs
improvement areas of the program.

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