On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This is attached to the Race to the Top funding (RTTT) which Obama instilled soon after taking office. The ARRA provides over $4 billion for the Race to the Top Fund. These funds are designed to encourage and reward states that are implementing educational plans that adopt standards and assess students to prepare them for college and work, build systems that measure student growth, utilize effective staff, and turn around low achieving schools. For more information about these funds you can visit this website:http://ed.gov/policy/gen/leg/recovery/index.html. Many schools in the area, and in the state of California, are rapidly discovering the benefits of such programs as Accelerated Reader to improve reading scores for students. ARRA funds are one source for funding this highly rated computer-based program.
Response to Intervention, or RTI, as it is commonly called, is not a new term to California educators. It is used frequently in East Bay Schools when discussing programs that address academic concerns of high needs’ students. The National Dropout Prevention Center has identified Accelerated Reader and Accelerated Math programs as having a high rate of success in preventing dropout rates. According to statistics available through the state of California, the breakdown of students within the state is as follows; 52% economically disadvantaged, and 24% limited English proficient. By comparison, 44% of students nationwide are economically disadvantaged, and 9% are limited English proficient. (percentages are rounded) This is strong evidence of the need for intervention programs in the state of California to address the diverse needs of students. Accelerated Reader is a proven, individualized program that addresses the needs of these students. Accelerated Reader is softward produced by Renaissance Learning and can be found at http://renlearn.com.
The fact that there are funding resources available right on the Accelerated Reader website, may be reason enough that it’s use has spread like wildfire. However, that is not the only factor. Very significant leaps in reading level and comprehension are being demonstrated by many students that are participating in the program. Students are first given an on-line assessment to determine their entry reading level. They are then assigned a color-coded category that indicates their reading level range. Teachers and parents alike can go to the website http://arbookfind.com to enter book titles and receive information about whether the book is part of the program and if so, it’s assigned level. Books are labeled in classrooms and in the library, and students are instructed to check out and read books within their “level.” When students have completed a book they can log onto the http://renlearn.com website to take quizzes. After they have passed a given percentage of quizzes and considered proficient at their current level, they are advanced to the next reading level.
Which schools have this innovative program, you may ask? Many schools within the MDUSD, including our featured school El Monte Elementary, along with Valle Verde, Pleasant Hill, and Strandwood. Oakland USD has also claimed success utilitzing the program at Acorn Woodland Elementary, Elmhurst Community Prep and the Center for Learning Technologies. Brentwood Union SD, Vacaville USD, and Morgan Hill USD are all districts with at least one school using the program. Many other schools in the area cite success such as Huff Elementary and Graham Middle School in Mountain View, Emma Smith Elementary in Livermoore, Mattos Elementary in Fremont and Brooksin Elementary in San Jose, to mention only a few. Schools in the Sacramento area along with multiple schools in southern California are also participating. Many of these schools have been named California Distinguished Schools. So what do you think, is your school ready to join in the race?