As I read through this compilation of opinions about using AR (Accelerated Reader), or other similar programs like Reading Counts, I get so frustrated I need to post a rant. When I take a position as LMS, I will fight these programs' widespread use with everything I have. As a teacher, I am fighting is as much as I can, which is, unfortunately, not much. I am having trouble seeing where the value is in them. I see censorship. Librarians are pressured to acquire only "testable" books instead of simply acquiring the best collection possible. Books are then labeled by color that represent their Lexile or Reading Level. Students now choose books by looking at colors on the spine instead of interest. Teachers requiring students to read on a certain "level" are limiting their students options and lowering the likelihood of their finding a book they really enjoy. Lower readers are now ashamed of their books that boldy show off the low level. High-low books are not so effective all of a sudden. Advanced readers have even more problems. Books in their level are often not at all interesting or even available in elementary libraries. Why should a student, who is clearly a good reader, be forced to read books at a level their teachers do not even read? I read the Mark Twain and Truman books for fun (and to keep abreast of what is available to my kiddos). Am I becoming a worse reader? Do I need to read Jane Austen and Dickens in order to keep my reading skills acute, improve my comprehension and learn to enjoy reading? I do enjoy Austen; I do not enjoy Dickens. So, I read Austen when I'm in the mood and I never read Dickens. This should be how we teach students to choose books. "Here, try this. If you like it, great... if not, let's try something else." How does reading become fun when it is a chore to find a book with the right color and the right number of points. The fact that most students choose books based on these two things proves that they are not reading for fun. They are reading for a grade.
I really could go on and on...I pretty much hate AR and RC...this will not be something I will willingly incorporate into my LMC programs.