Content 101: The making of a Renaissance Accelerated Reader quiz

By Jill Kane, Managing Editor

Each school day, hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. and 70 other countries will assess their reading comprehension and reading-skill mastery goals using Renaissance Accelerated Reader® quizzes and practice activities. The assessments these students complete come from the more than 200,000 quizzes in our system—a number that grows by approximately 8,000 quizzes each year.

In this blog post, I will take you behind the scenes to learn more about how Renaissance develops quizzes that are psychometrically sound, valid, and reliable assessments of reading practice that confirm a student’s reading comprehension.

1. Selecting books students want to read

At the heart of Accelerated Reader is, of course, a book—actually, lots of them. Each year, Renaissance develops quizzes based on roughly 6,000 books that comprise an equal number of fiction and nonfiction titles.

We cast a wide net to help ensure quizzes are developed for popular, newer books, though these are not always the most current titles. Our sources include the following:

  • Book reviews

  • Best-of lists

  • Book-award winners

  • Past performance of books by specific authors

  • School-library publishers, which produce book series that focus on U.S. states, sports, animals, planets, and more

  • More than 350 librarian lists from across the U.S.

  • Customer requests submitted on Renaissance.com

Also, we develop quizzes for books published by today’s most popular authors, such as Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Once we identify the list of books we’ll add to our library and we have them in hand, we are ready to begin the process of developing an Accelerated Reader quiz.

2. Getting to know a book, inside and out

Before the Renaissance Content Development team can begin writing a quiz, each book must first be processed, which includes three phases:

  • Digitizing the pages. After Renaissance receives a book from the publisher, we enter its information into our content management system (CMS). This includes scanning the book, page by page, to make a digital copy.

  • Assessing the readability level. With the book now in our CMS, a separate system, ATOS—a readability formula developed specifically for Renaissance—provides the title’s readability level.

  • Determining the interest level. Next, with information we receive from the publisher, we determine the book’s interest level. In Accelerated Reader, we have four levels: lower grades, middle grades, middle grades-plus (which is the equivalent of junior high), and upper grades. (We also have a fifth level for our three-question pre-K, emergent reader quizzes.) The combination of readability and interest levels provides educators with a powerful tool for gauging whether the density of the text and the subject matter of the book are an appropriate match for a student.

3. Quality control is key to a reliable assessment

With processing and assessment activities complete, the book is assigned to one of our 30 content developers, matching the book to the expertise and experience of the writer. Within a week’s time—sooner if the book is popular and customer demand is high—the writer will have read the book and written a “raw quiz” that is ready for a series of rigorous quality checks:

  • Reading the book again. Each book is read by a different content editor or content developer to provide a second perspective on the text.

  • Checking the quiz. Then, the second reader will test the quiz in the student program.

  • Evaluating the quiz’s quality. Next, a team of four to five editors evaluates each quiz by asking questions such as What was confusing? or What wording was unclear? Editors also look for factual errors—e.g., Was a character in the book misnamed in the quiz?—and ensure the quiz is not too easy or too difficult. Distracters are reviewed for plausibility. In addition, editors verify that quiz questions are dispersed evenly throughout the text to encourage students to read the entire book.

  • Validating the quiz. The final step is to ensure the quiz is psychometrically sound and represents a valid, reliable assessment of the student’s comprehension for his or her reading practice.

After approximately three weeks, the quiz is released into Accelerated Reader and ready to be accessed by students around the world.

4. Taking pride in our purpose

We believe personalized reading practice through Accelerated Reader can help every student discover a lifelong love of reading with the guidance of an expert teacher. That is why we take great care and pride in developing quizzes for our customers and their students. And it is why we are committed to our purpose of accelerating learning for all.

We welcome your suggestions for new books to add to the Accelerated Reader quiz library. You can submit them anytime on our website.

Suggestions come to mind? Click the button below to suggest a quiz.

Jill Kane, Managing Editor

Jill Kane is currently managing editor of Wisconsin Rapids Content Development, which is responsible for Accelerated Reader, Vocabulary Practice, and Literacy Practice quiz production.  Prior to her career at Renaissance, Jill taught Language Arts at the junior high, high school, and junior college levels.

Jill Kane, Managing Editor
Jill Kane, Managing Editor
Jill Kane is currently managing editor of Wisconsin Rapids Content Development, which is responsible for Accelerated Reader, Vocabulary Practice, and Literacy Practice quiz production.  Prior to her career at Renaissance, Jill taught Language Arts at the junior high, high school, and junior college levels.

47 Comments

  1. Melissa Berry says:

    Great info!!

  2. jason says:

    Great to see some behind the scenes stuff related to Accelerated Reader.

  3. Dvawn Maza says:

    Getting the students’ attention is imperative! Being prepared and knowledgeable is key!

  4. Alecia Walkuski says:

    Very interesting! I was aware of the suggest a quiz area and have suggested several quizzes over the years.

  5. Lisa Capon says:

    So interesting!!

  6. s. bellomo says:

    This is great insight into the back office of quiz making. I have suggested quizzes over the years and and so happy to get the email confirming the new quiz.

  7. Katy says:

    Interesting info. I was wondering how this works.

  8. Sandra Cuningham says:

    Seems like a dream job! I’d to be able to write questions for the books students read!

  9. Thonisha Davis says:

    I was unaware!

  10. Virginia Wiedenfeld says:

    This was great information! In the past, teachers could submit quizzes. Is there any chance we might go back to that?

  11. Angela Domond says:

    Thank you for sharing the process of creating a quiz. I would love to see more vocabulary quizzes.

  12. Andrea says:

    Wonderful information! Thanks for sharing how quiz making is done.

  13. Carly says:

    Thank you! I just suggested a book. I highly recommend the new picture book for Hidden Figures! I’m reading it with my third grade students who are loving it.

  14. Rita Platt says:

    I love to make quizzes on books! Even more, my students love to write quizzes for books they’ve written themselves. Not as high quality as those made by you folks but still wonderful!

  15. Damaris Perez says:

    Interesting information! I’m happy to know we can contribute/request quizzes, since I have a small library of books that are not yet available.

  16. P R says:

    Lots going on behind the scenes.

  17. Tristen Short says:

    Great information in the quiz making process. I wondered how information from bigger chapter books was organized to gauge comprehension.

  18. Lynn Humphrey says:

    Awesome article! Lots of rich information.

  19. Mr. Sanchez says:

    Wow! I have been using Renaissance for more than 10 years and never knew this. It is amazing the steps that is needed to create their quizes.

  20. Jody Steinhaus says:

    Wow! Props to the developers of the quizzes! Fascinating process.

  21. Amy says:

    Very interesting. I wondered how the quizzes were developed.

  22. Laura says:

    Sounds like a lot of work.

  23. Brenda Curtis says:

    Very interesting to know how these quizzes are developed! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Kelsie Haggard says:

    Very cool!

  25. Virginia Travis says:

    I would love to have the job of creating official AR quizzes! This was a fascinating article.

  26. Doug says:

    Didn’t know it took three weeks. Good explanation of the process.

  27. Terri says:

    Great article. I love that everything is checked and checked again. I always assure students and staff that the quizzes are valid and carefully verified. I love the suggest a quiz feature!

  28. Michelle Harrell says:

    I have requested a quiz before. It was very easy to do. The article was extremely interesting. I never knew what went into developing the quizzes. What a great process! Sounds fun!!

  29. Mary Brown says:

    I am happy to know how books are chose for AR and how the quizzes are developed. I will certainly check the list of titles and suggest a book if one of our favorites is not listed. Thanks again, for your educating us on your/our products.

  30. Ami K. Edwards says:

    That’s good to know how the quizzes are made.

  31. Deana Sain says:

    I love being able to suggest quizzes!

  32. Angela Garza says:

    Interesting information. I have suggested titles before. Good to know that new popular titles go through the process quickly.

  33. I did know this and have requested quizzes!

  34. Sean W says:

    This is good info to know. I’m amazed at both how many quizzes there are, and that there are still occasions when a new (and relatively popular) book doesn’t have a quiz.

  35. Katie Peugh says:

    I have used the feature before and the response is pretty quick!

  36. Veronica says:

    Information is very interesting, WOW.

  37. Amy says:

    I am really glad to know about the suggest a quiz feature!

  38. Nicole Erwin says:

    I suggest quizzes all the time! My students stay up on current books 🙂

  39. shonda Hill says:

    Interesting to see the process

  40. Krystal Dozier says:

    It’s great to know how quizzes are generated.

  41. Katie Wiltz says:

    I loved reading this blob, I loved reading behind the scenes things, Thank you for letting us in.

  42. Dee Christiansen-Philips says:

    It is interesting to know how complex the process of quiz generation really is. Thank you for allowing participation in the quiz generation process through the “Suggest a Quiz” component.

  43. Katherine W Williams says:

    Wow! This is really interesting!

  44. Lauren Thrasher says:

    This is very interesting information. Thanks for sharing how quizzes are made.

  45. Liana Ferrer says:

    I have used the suggested quizzing aspect many times. My students always get excited when they find out that their book is finally an A.R test.

  46. Dalina says:

    wow there is a lot of ground work done first.

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