The Accelerated Reader Program

— Institute of Educational Sciences
Updated on Jan 11, 2010


The Accelerated Reader program is a guided reading intervention in which teachers are closely involved with student reading of text. It involves two components, the Accelerated Reader software and Accelerated Reader Best Classroom Practices (formerly called Reading Renaissance). The Accelerated Reader software is a computerized supplementary reading program. Accelerated Reader relies on independent reading practice as a way of managing student performance by providing students and teachers feedback from quizzes based on books the students read. Accelerated Reader Best Classroom Practices are a set of recommended principles on guided independent reading (or teachers’ direction of students’ interactions with text) that ensure Accelerated Reader is implemented with integrity.2


Two studies of Accelerated Reader meet the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. One of the studies evaluated 572 students from grades K to 3 attending 11 schools in a southern school district in the United States. The second study included 32 students in grade 3 attending one school in the Pacific Northwest.3

Based on these two studies, the WWC considers the extent of evidence for Accelerated Reader to be medium to large for comprehension and small for reading fluency and general reading achievement. No studies that meet WWC evidence standards with or without reservations examined the effectiveness of Accelerated Reader in the alphabetics domain.


Accelerated Reader was found to have no discernible effects on reading fluency, mixed effects on comprehension, and potentially positive effects on general reading achievement.

  Alphabetics Reading fluency Comprehension General reading achievement
Rating of effectiveness              
 No discernible effects  Mixed effects  Potentially positive effects
Improvement index4 na  +3 percentile points Average: 0 percentile points
Range: –12 to +12
percentile points
Average: +16 percentile points
Range: +10 to +25
percentile points

na = not applicable

1 This report has been updated to include reviews of 62 studies that have been released since 2005. A complete list and disposition of all studies reviewed is provided in the references.
2 The descriptive information for this program was obtained from a publicly available source: the program’s website (, downloaded July 2008). The WWC requests developers to review the program description sections for accuracy from their perspective. Further verification of the accuracy of the descriptive information for this program is beyond the scope of this review.
3 The evidence presented in this report is based on available research. Findings and conclusions may change as new research becomes available.
4 These numbers show the average and range of student-level improvement indices for all findings across the two studies.
Program Information

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