What are kids reading today? Let’s find out.
The Common Core is in the process of setting up a PII-P20 database to monitor everything that we do in education. PII is data that includes Personally Identifiable Information; P20 refers to a database that monitors students from preschool through college and into the workforce. The purpose of the PII-P20 database is longitudinal studies, or studies that will compare what works and what doesn’t work over a long period of time, with the hopes of continual improvement. We agree that hard data helps, it’s just the use of PII that is disturbing.
Renaissance Learning, the folks who do the Accelerated Reader program and testing, has just issued the 2013 report, “What Kids are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools.” It uses the data collected from thousands of AR-reading tests to report on what kids have actually read this year. Of course, the caveat is that these are also books they tested on, and therefore may not give the clearest picture of leisure reading. An AR-test must exist and a school must have it available for a student to test on the book; students often read books that they don’t test on.
Still, this is a fascinating, useful crunching of numbers–done without the PII information. “The Accelerated Reader Real Time database includes book-reading records for more than 8.6 million students from 27,240 schools nationwide who read more than 283 million books during the 2011-2012 school year.”
Overall, books that receive national exposure by being made into a movie were hits: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, rising from #210th most popular to #28 this year for third graders; The Help by Kathryn Stockett, from #1273 last year to #24 among high schoolers; and, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which had done well in high school and middle school in previous years, but this year jumped from #1478 to #24 in fourth grade and from #92 to #4 in fifth grade.
Text complexity in early 20th century for required reading in high school was about 9.0 ATOS, but has dropped to about 6.0 ATOS.
CCSS Exemplar texts were popular. The report states “. . .examining the popularity of the CCSS exemplars revealed that, although not intended to be used as a curriculum, almost all of the Informational Texts and Stories Exemplars were read by a slightly greater proportion of students in 2011-12 than the prior school year, suggesting the new standards may be influencing both curricular choices and less formal recommendations.”
These are fascinating pieces of data. The information is broken into favorites by grade and gender. You can also download these reports:
- Top 100 Nonfiction Books Read by ATOS Book Level Range, Grades 1-12
- Top 100 Fiction Books Read by ATOS Book Level Range, Grades 1-12
- Top 25 Spanish Books Read, Grades 1-12
Here’s an infographic from RenLearing.