"Read each AR book 4 times each" was scrawled in bold letters in my eight-year-old's assignment book.I asked her what this meant, and she explained that she must read each Accelerated Reader (AR) book four times to make a good grade on the twice-a-week tests at her school in the Fort Worth district.After carefully examining the guidelines her elementary principal sent home, I learned that reading each book numerous times was not required.The message, however, was very clear: Testing and the repercussions for not doing well on these biweekly AR tests was important. And my 8-year-old understood that message; she was scared.Accelerated Reader (AR) was first introduced in the 1980s by Renaissance Learning, a for-profit company now owned by a private-equity firm in the United Kingdom.AR makes a fortune from public schools by claiming to assess a child's reading ability, to develop lifelong readers and to personalize reading instruction through tests for K-12 students.Children begin by taking a test and receive a score and number of points that are calculated based on the child's rate of accuracy (test score) in combination with the level of the book. This test then determines the books that a child may select to read. AR encourages children to engage in reading to earn points rather than for the pleasure.These books are representative of this point structure:Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 32 pointsGulliver's Travels, 13 pointsTo Kill a Mockingbird, 14 pointsThe Great Gatsby, 8 pointsMany teachers support AR because it claims that children need to be encouraged to read frequently and need a reward.AR reading does not allow children to have the opportunity to discuss with their peers a book's literary quality, character development, plot and the beautiful way in which authors create scenes through artistic expression of words.AR takes away from quality conversations children can have with a friend during a literature circle or book club meeting in class.What do researchers say about AR? I contacted Mariana Souto-Manning, a nationally known literacy colleague at Teacher's College, Columbia University.Souto-Manning explains the problems with using AR:Enforcing AR as a way of assessing reading fails to use assessment in authentic ways, in ways that inform teaching.AR does not allow teachers to gain insight into students' learning processes and build on their strengths regarding understanding, fluency and many other facets of reading.In addition, limiting students to reading books that are associated with AR takes the joy away from reading and censors students' choices. Book censorship takes place by limiting what students are allowed to read.AR determines which books are and are not available and suitable to read.When students' selections of books are restricted to a certain level, interests are placed in check.It has been proven that more reading time results in greater gains in literacy. But another problem with AR tests is the emphasis of low-level, literal facts.As a result, children accentuate retaining small details from books in order to get higher scores on tests, says Stephen Krashen, a nationally known literacy professor from the University of Southern California.What does this mean for our children?It means superficial involvement in the reading process and a focus on reading for the purpose of testing.We have succeeded in teaching children the game of school. It is all about a test -- and a grade -- at least in Texas.Jan Lacina is associate dean for graduate studies at Texas Christian University's College of Education.