Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How the AR System is Flawed

I don't know how many of you are aware that I run another blog called The Novel Nibblers.   My friend Amanda and I read and rate books...more like movie ratings than is this book awesome or not.  There are just too many YA books out there and there is no way of telling what's in them.  Just because it's in the YA section doesn't always make it appropriate for your teen...or middle-grader.

I've ranted about this before, but it just keeps rearing its ugly little head.  In elementary now they use a system called Accelerated Reader or AR.  The kids read a book in their level and take a test on it.  The better they test, the higher their reading level goes.  I have two kiddos (4th and 5th grade) that read at high school level.  Now some teachers are more strict than others about staying at or above their level and let me tell you how hard it gets to find book with a 9th or 10th grade level that are age appropriate for my 9yo daughter...HARD!!!

When Amanda and I rate books we list their AR level and points (another part of their system..essentially the longer the book, the more points it's worth).  This makes it easy for people who need that info.  I just reread City of Glass (which I love by the way!) and rated it.  It deals with some very adult themes such as rape, incest, suicide, child abuse, homosexual romance, etc.  Now I'm not judging what other's read and everyone has their own limits but I do not believe that this is a good book for my elementary age kids.  Do you know what it's reading level is?  5.3...yes 5th grade!

Now I will say that the AR website will suggest what grades it's appropriate for (upper, middle, lower) but still....as far as I know, none of the teachers check that before letting a kid check out a book at the library.

Anyway...sorry for the rant but until they take content into account for their ratings I will be keeping a very close eye on what my children read (not that I wouldn't anyway but sometimes I have to fight with a teacher over this.).   So if you are wondering what your child is reading, feel free to pop by our blog and see if we've rated it yet.  Or, if you think what we're doing is worth helping with, we would love to have you help us rate books because we're only two moms (who write, volunteer, etc) and can only read so fast!