Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

8 Reasons Educators are Sick of AR

8 Reasons Educators are Sick of AR

By Jessica Sanders

Accelerated Reader has “no discernible effects on reading fluency or comprehension for adolescent learners,” according to an August 2010 program review by the Institute of Education Sciences.

That’s not all; many educators find that the program has many negative effects in their classrooms. If you use AR, then you will probably find these memes are all too familiar.


1. Students end up reading for points and prizes, turning reading into a chore.


“His less conscientious classmates choose books from the AR list, but compare that list to the Netflix/movie list in order to “finish” a Harry Potter book in about 2 hours.  They basically game the system as much as possible.” —Sandra Stotsky, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas


2. It makes more work for teachers—who already have no time.

no time stressed

“I had to put reading-level dots on the books, manually enter the 6th graders into the program, collect donations and supplies for the AR store each semester, shut down the library to run the store for six instructional days, and keep track of all the kids points from purchases.” —Tara, The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhh!


3. With a limited book selection, students’ power of choice is diminished. 


“His teacher made him start on books on the 4.5 level and wouldn’t let him step up to the next level until he had passed off his tests perfectly. He was bored and would come home crying every day the first two months cause he was frustrated with the restrictions.” —Royleane E. Otteson, Parent


4.Students are dissuaded from reading above their reading level.

do less

“My 4th grader has the dubious honor of being able to read on about the 6-7th grade level.  So the grade level he is restricted to is at the 5-7th grade range.  If he reads anything at too low a level, he doesn’t get enough points.” —Dick Dalton, Special Education Teacher

reading too much? Whooos Reading


5. The multiple-choice questions don’t encourage higher-level thinking.

multiple choice

These questions, there are five total, are about various things that happened in the book that don’t delve into any kind of an analysis. Basically, they are memory recall questions.” —Kim Jaxon, Parent


6. Point levels for books are often inaccurate.

doesn't make sense

“Scanning the lists also gives you an idea of how well Renaissance’s proprietary reading level software ATOS works. For instance, the Crucible scores a lowly 4.9– lower than the Fault in our Stars (5.5) or Frankenstein (12.4) but still higher than Of Mice and Men (4.5). Most of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books come in in the mid-5.somethings. So if the wimpy kid books are too tough for your students, hit them with Lord of the Flies which is a mere 5.0 even.” —Peter Greene, Author and High School Teacher


7. Multiple-choice is punitive and makes students feel like failures.

multiple choice failures

“But more importantly, he was humiliated when he didn’t earn enough points to join in the monthly party or get to ‘buy’ things with those points at a school store full of junky prizes.” —Jen Marten, Teacher and Parent


8. Students choose the books that give them the most points.


“Every book in the AR system carries the go-get-‘em marketplace “sell” of reading-for-rewards, provoking an AR -designated 4.8 reader to go for the nine points payoff attached to for Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, instead of the paltry one point each for the age-appropriate Stone Fox or Harry Kitchen and Tucker Mouse.”Susan Ohanian, Reading Teacher

View Comments (2)


  1. Daniel Fountenberry

    April 19, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    I’m so glad that you wrote this article. I’ve seen too many classrooms where students are divided by reading ability – strong readers sitting on one side of the classroom and struggling readers sitting in a different part of the room. It’s terrible for their self esteem. I’ve seen the look of shame come over students as they walk down the “Lex-Aisle.” I created Books That Grow specifically because I did not want to see students held back by their so called ‘reading level.’ Books That Grow offers digital text that increase or decrease in language complexity to match the readers ability. What we’ve seen is that given a chance and some encouragement, students will often exceed their teachers expectations. I’d love for you check out Books That Grow and see if helps you engage your more challenged readers. You can check it out at, please reach out to me as well. – Daniel

  2. Freakin Savage

    March 22, 2018 at 9:29 am

    Funny report and made me HATE AR. I absolutely hated AR from the start. This article made me feel like your my people thanks for that 🙂 😉

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