In April 2008, TCS joined with the JCSP office to set up a programme to help young students develop their reading skills. Mick O'Riordan and Dorothy Butterly, Literacy Advisors with the JCSP office visited the school with a view to introducing and explaining the programme and assessing TCS's suitability for the Accelerated Reading Programme. Only nine other schools in the country are currently in the scheme.
Accelerated Reader(AR) is a programme that helps teachers guide students to the appropriate level of reading difficulty in popular books that appeal to the young reader. Then the students can test their progress in online quizzes. The web-based service is hosted by Renaissance Learning in the UK and provides a detailed tracking system of each student's progress. The analysis identifies the reading level the student should aim for to achieve optimal development and also identifies a choice of book titles. The school library has been stocked with appropriate books which are colour-coded according to different levels, making it easier for the student to find his/her target title.
Tallaght Community School signed up for Accelerated Reading(AR) in May 2008 and during the summer months we sent a list of books to Renaissance Learning, the company who runs the AR Programme. They matched our books to books that were suitable for the programme and it was with these books that our AR library was started. Each book was scored from 0 to 6 and the books were colour coded so that students could find the book that matched their score. All of the 34 students in the JCSP programme were tested in October 2008 using the Star Reader programme. Each student was given a score and they read books that were within the range of that score. When students scored 85% in three books within their reading range they moved to the next level.
Some of the most popular books in the library are those in the Barrington Stokes range. We also have books by popular authors like Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and many other contemoprary authors.
On Wednesday mornings every student was quizzed and had an opportunity to change their book. Students could be quizzed anytime as all the computers in the computer room had Star Reader and students could also access the computers in the library.
Students were tested again in April and many have showed an improvement. They will be tested at
the end of the the term and will be ready to start agan in September 2010.
In March 2009, Mick O'Riordan re-visited the school and spent some time with the students who have been participating in the programme.
C O'Dwyer, JCSP Co-ordinator