Using Technology to Improve Reading


To become fluent readers, students must build automaticity at the letter, word, sentence and passage levels. When a student struggles, knowing how and when to intervene is critical. Building on its 20-year history of innovation and proven results, Scientific Learning Corp. (OTC PINK:SCIL) was awarded a new patent for a unique method of providing feedback to students while they read aloud and record passages in the Reading Assistant™  program.

Reading Assistant is the only tool that uses speech recognition technology to support and correct learners as they read aloud. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the patent to Scientific Learning for the development of a novel method of providing visual feedback to students when they struggle with a word in a sentence. With this method, when the student is reading fluently, the software provides feedback at the sentence level. In this instance, the sentence that the student is reading is highlighted in black type, while the other sentences on the screen are gray. This helps students keep their place in the text, while eliminating distractions that might interfere with fluency or comprehension. If, however, the student makes an error or gets stuck on a word, Reading Assistant will replace that sentence-level feedback with feedback focused on that specific word. In this case, the software will highlight only that word and provide audio or visual support as  needed.

“By issuing this patent, the USPTO affirms that Scientific Learning has taken a truly innovative approach to guided oral reading instruction by providing feedback at the sentence or word level, depending on the student’s needs,” said Robert C. Bowen, CEO of Scientific Learning. “This combination of strategies allows students to dramatically improve their reading fluency and comprehension, while getting the support they need at the moment they need  it.”

At Conner High School in Boone County, Kentucky, students in the Reading for College Success class progressed from an average 6thgrade reading level to 9.5 grade reading level in just five months of using Reading Assistant. “When we place students in Reading Assistant they show gains at a rapid pace,” said Superintendent Randy Poe. “With this program, we’ve increased reading proficiency  district-wide.”

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