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ACCELERATED READER PROGRAM SUCCESS MARKED IN SCHOOLS DURING 'NATIONAL READING CHALLENGE WEEK'

NEW YORK, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Schools across the nation, where students have shown remarkable improvement through the "Accelerated Reader" computer software program, are this week marking "National Reading Challenge Week."

Scheduled celebrations range from hot air balloon rides, western hoedowns, to a school principal kissing a pig.

More than two million students in 16,000 schools across the country are currently bucking the trend in which most students have been shown to be unable to read at grade level, according to Terry Paul, president of Advantage Learning Systems, publisher of the "Accelerated Reader" program.

Paul, noting the decline in test scores highlighted by the National Assessment of Education Progress report released in April, says it results from lack of reading practice.

"By adding more reading practice, significant improvements in reading occur," he says. "The 'Accelerated Reader' motivates students. They want to read and are having fun doing it. They're becoming world champion readers."

"Children now are reading who never read before," says Sarah M. McMillin, principal of Easton Elementary School in Easton, Kansas. "This is one of the greatest programs I've ever seen in my years of teaching and administration. The kids love it!"

Here are examples of how the Challenge Week is being observed:

Students who achieve their reading challenge goals at Sundown Lane Elementary School, Amarillo, Texas, will celebrate with a hot air balloon ride and a picnic. The top three readers, one from each grade level, at Bismark (Ill.) Elementary School will be picked up May 19 by limousine and taken to play mini-golf with the school librarian. Ranchwood Elementary School, Yukon, Oklahoma, hard hit by the recent Oklahoma City Bombing, still plans a western jamboree honoring Accelerated Reader winners.

The week's events will celebrate students' achievement of "reading challenge" goals -- goals established by principals and teachers for each grade and for the entire school. Individual student's progress is measured by comprehension tests given upon completion of each book. Factors such as length and difficulty of each book determine the total number of "reading challenge" points earned.

"Among the chief advantages of the 'Accelerated Reader' is that it motivates students and makes reading fun," says Paul. "The excitement of competition and rewards provide the initial stimulation that gets students interested in reading and keeps them interested long enough to develop fluent reading skills."

Teachers and administrators agree. According to Ray Zanotelli, reading language arts consultant at the John W. Wallace Middle School in Newington, Conn., the Accelerated Reader program is a major success story at Wallace.

"It really does what it's supposed to do -- the 450 students in grades 6-8 participating in the program read better books now, including more novels -- even their writing has improved," says Zanotelli.
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/NOTE TO EDITORS: The press is invited to attend activities at participating schools and/or visit classrooms using the Accelerated Reader program during National Reading Challenge Week. They include (partial listing): Bismark (ILL.) Elementary, Wilson (N.Y.) Elementary, Ranchwood Elementary (Yukon, OK.), Glencoe Elementary (Gadsen, AL.), Cloverly Elementary (Temple City, CA.), Trenton (N.C.) Elementary, Sundown Lane Elementary (Amarillo, TX.), Halstead Elementary (Copperas Cove, TX.), Tuloso Midway Independent (Corpus Christi, TX.), Rains Elementary (Emory, TX.) and Pine Hill School (Eureka, CA.). Advance notice is requested. For further information, call contact./

/CONTACT: Scott Knickelbine of Advantage Learning Systems, 715-424-3636, or Carol Halstead or Marilynne Herbert of College Connections, 212-734-2190/

CO: Advantage Learning Systems ST: Wisconsin IN: SU:

PL -- NYFNS1 -- 6528 05/15/95 08:11 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 15, 1995
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