Taking on the U.S. Reading Challenge – 2020 FluencyRev™ Debut!
Since our early days helping ELLs in China, our LanguaBooks™ concept of providing a 21st-century oral reading experience has grown and matured. At LanguaMetrics, from all our work with NWEA over the years and our experience working with teachers, we’ve gained a great deal of knowledge about the challenges faced by teachers and students when it comes to learning to read. The more we learned, the more energized we became about finding a way to apply our AI and Speech Analytics capabilities to try to make a dent in the Reading Problem.
This chart shows the depth of the problem. The quick read is in 2022 68% (39% + 29%) of our nation’s readers read below the national (NAEP) proficient level, according to the Nation’s Report Card. These statistics have been consistent for the past twenty years. We felt we there must be something we can.
We spoke with academics, researchers, teachers, and students to get a better understanding of the dynamics of learning to read in U.S. schools. We came to learn that there are multiple approaches to reading instruction and each approach has its devotees. Our goal was to find out if there was something that all the approaches have in common.
What we discovered is that all parties to the discussion agreed that – children do not read enough! They have many modern-day distractions from video games to social media and more. And equally important, with these reduced total reading hours – very little of this time is spent “reading to” someone, be it a parent or teacher. When you are not “reading to” someone, there is no one there to correct you, to give you the feedback you need to improve, and become a strong reader. This was the problem we thought we could help solve. Could we leverage our technology to create a product that would get children to read more, and could this product give them the feedback they need to improve, to be that someone to “read to”.
In 2020 we brought to market – FluencyRev™, a collection of hundreds of leveled readers, each with our unique AI Speech analytics capabilities, within an LMS framework suited to U.S. school districts. The secret sauce within FluencyRev™ is its engagement mechanism. We leveraged our AI and Speech Analytics capabilities to provide rewards to students for reading repeatedly and reading accurately. In the image below you can see the feedback the student receives after recording his reading. The text on the screen changes color to give the student feedback, showing him red and yellow for words that need to be improved, and strikethrough for words that were skipped. Most importantly, they earn stars, shown at the top of the page. Children are encouraged to try to achieve 4 to 5 stars on each page. When they complete the book, their stars are converted to coins, and trust me when I say, they are in it for the coins 😊. We’ve taken a time-tested motivation mechanism and applied our AI and Speech analytics. The result, in classrooms across America, children are reading out loud and loving it. They are in it for the coins and will read the same page over and over again to earn more stars. Imagine asking a child to read each page of a paper book 3 times. Children are doing this every day with FluencyRev.