When our kids were in public school, they participated in the Accelerated Reader program which had comprehension quizzes for books that students read. The quizzes were helpful in determining how well students understood the materials. What I didn’t like about the program was that students were forced to read only books in their tested Lexile level and had to accomplish a goal specified by the teacher in order to get a certificate at an assembly. If children wanted to read long books which would not fit into the AR time slot, then they had to switch gears and read what would work based on goals set by their teacher. The program was intended to increase reading and a love for reading but had the opposite effect.
While I did not like the time constraints and limitations, I did like the quizzes. It would have been nice to purchase a membership for homeschool but it is not available, likely because it could be used for cheating in schools. So, I have sought alternatives that would work well for our family. I have listed three great resources and one that I cannot recommend.
- Readworks.org is a fantastic website that has reading passages on a wide variety of topics for different grade levels. Passages can be assigned to your students along with quizzes that include multiple choice, vocabulary and written answer options. As a nonprofit, they ask for donations in order to use this service. I find it worthwhile to contribute to this well designed resource.
- Khanacademy.org is another wonderful site that includes a multitude of topics for young learners through to adults. Young learners enjoy earning ‘energy points’ while they participate in the activities and take the quizzes. There are many instructional videos that help to clarify the materials. If students miss answers, the concepts can be practiced until mastery is achieved. Like Readworks.org, Khanacademy.org also requests donations as it is a non-profit organization.
- Bookadventure.com has a variety of quizzes on books for many different grade levels. I was pleased that more recent books were included in the selection. In comparison to Accelerated Reader, the quizzes for longer books, such as those in the Harry Potter series, were shorter. Even though the quiz was only ten questions, it would ensure that a student read the entire book and was paying attention to the details. Many of the wrong answers seemed plausible if one had not read the whole book. Their pricing structure takes larger families into account. If the service is used regularly, the pricing is reasonable. If if is used only occasionally, it would not be cost effective.
- Readnquiz.com comes up right away in a search for alternatives to Accelerated Reader for homeschool. I inquired as to their service and pricing structure as their listed prices do not make sense for larger families. They charge one rate for one student and then another charge for each additional student. I did the math for our family of four learners and the rate was within a few cents of the rate for an entire classroom of 30 students and double that of a teacher paying out of pocket. If we had even one more learner, our rate would be higher than that of an entire classroom. My inquiry was met with condescension to the level that I would never use their service, nor recommend it to others. Here is Vera’s response to my polite question about pricing: “Hi, We worked very hard to make our pricing fair for every edition. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with it. There are many issues involved and we don’t try to explain them to our customers. Vera.” This conversation continued as I was hoping to help pave the way for large families but her tone did not change nor was she open to feedback. I am sharing this in hopes of sparing other families from dealing this this company. I believe that kindness counts. I would have been OK with a polite response indicating that she was not in a position to alter their pricing.