SoapBox Launches Fluency to Assess Children's Reading Ability

SoapBox Labs, a speech recognition company that powers learning and play experiences for children, has launched SoapBox Fluency to gives educators insight into their students oral reading fluency (ORF).

"For the first time in a decade, elementary reading scores in the U.S. have hit a plateau and educators across the world are being overwhelmed by a deepening literacy crisis due to unprecedented COVID lockdowns and quarantines. The research is well-documented: for a child to achieve reading fluency, we must get early literacy right," said Amelia Kelly, vice president of speech technology at SoapBox Labs, in a statement. "Advancements in speech recognition technology are giving educators insights that are nearly impossible to surface in today's classroom or remote learning environment. By understanding where students are struggling with reading, down to the phoneme level, educators can intervene faster and with much more accuracy. This is a really exciting application of technology, in service of the teacher."

SoapBox Fluency generates assessment data, not only about the number of errors in ORF, but the types and frequencies of those errors. SoapBox Fluency now also provides a phoneme-level breakdown of the words children substitute during oral reading, when they made substitutions, the word they used to make the substitution, and with what accuracy. By breaking down pronunciation by units of speech, educators gain even more precise and timely insights into how children are progressing on the literacy journey.

"Innovating literacy instruction and assessment is no longer just an exciting prospect; it's an urgent imperative if we are to prioritize inclusivity and support all young students who have lost momentum over the last 20 months," said Marytn Farrows, CEO of SoapBox Labs, in a statement. "It's encouraging to see education companies embracing these advancements in speech recognition and accelerating their plans to voice-enable literacy tools for the home and classroom. With SoapBox Fluency, teachers now have the tools they need to tackle this crisis on a student-by-student basis."

With Fluency, teachers also have immediate access to granular data about their students' reading assessments through a data dashboard, as well as time-stamped recordings of students' reading practices and assessments.

"This new ability to understand students' fluency down to the phoneme-level will be a game changer for literacy instruction," said Krista Curran, senior vice president and general manager of assessment and intervention at Amplify, in a statement. "After months of careful testing with educators and researchers, we deployed SoapBox's cutting-edge Fluency solution as part of our mCLASS suite for back to school 2020. SoapBox's singular focus on speech tech for kids presents a unique opportunity to make good on the promise of innovation as we all work together to drive stronger outcomes for students."

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