19 read 4,350 books to champion AR quest

Published 12:14 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A second-grade class at Dana Road Elementary has raced to the finish line for the academic year.

Teacher Kimberly Rhodman expected her students to read at least one book each, but the 19 students read a combined 4,350 books — with a few reading more than 400 — to make them the 2010 Accelerated Reader Champs.

“They sort of took off without me,” Rhodman said during a reception Thursday to recognize the class. “I didn’t know it would blow up like this. My goal was to get them excited about reading.”

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The 9,000-student consolidated district finished the school year Friday.

Parental encouragement was critical, Rhodman said.

“I’ve never had this much parent participation and that’s key,” she said.

Students could read a book or have someone read it to them, Rhodman said.

One of the top readers in the class, Jerron Williams, son of Yakisha Edwards and Jerrold Williams, read 436 books. Jerron said he likes reading because it makes him “get smarter and better.” He said his favorite was an Incredible Hulk book.

“He has always liked to read but now it’s kind of become an obsession with him,” Edwards said. “I had to bring him to school early the other morning because he wanted to read more books.”

Accelerated Reader is a software assessment program used in elementary schools throughout the country. Students read AR-approved books, then take computer-based tests on them.

Dana Road Elementary librarian Tiffany Brantley said the incentive program is effective in increasing student reading comprehension.

“We take something called the Star Reading Test at the beginning, middle and end of the year,” he said. “The classes that participate in AR see a great increase in the scores.”