SoapBox Labs Can Assess Foundational Pre-Literacy Skills Among Youngest Learners 

SoapBox Labs, a speech recognition company that powers learning and play experiences for kids, has launched early literacy features to help educators identify and assess pre-school and kindergarten children's ability to identify and pronounce letter names and sounds--also known as phonemic and phonological awareness.

"Our global literacy crisis has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and is being felt acutely by our youngest learners. This has created a sense of urgency for our team, and we've been working tirelessly to build the technological ability to support children earlier in their learning journey," said Marytn Farrows, CEO of SoapBox Labs, in a statement. "Acoustically, it's very difficult to make a voice engine work accurately at this very granular, individual sound level. However, SoapBox's innovation in audio decoding has made this breakthrough possible. This is a huge leap forward for literacy instruction, and we're proud to be able to offer this ability to developers of literacy solutions."

This innovation in speech recognition technology enables voice-powered literacy solutions to now accurately listen for each phoneme, or sound, and return accurate feedback to educators. For example, the speech recognition technology can now listen to a student sound out the word "treasure." The voice engine can listen for each sound, as well as the overall speech pattern, and assess the student's level of phonological awareness.  Being able to identify and score very short utterances will help teachers pinpoint challenges across large numbers of students and personalize their support for each student.

"When students fail to learn to read, the instruction is often to blame. Positive and impactful instruction relies on providing regular and detailed feedback to children at every stage from learning letter sounds to words, phrases, and sentences," said Dr. Mary Eisele, director of product management at McGraw Hill, in a statement. "The potential of these new features is enormous to give teachers and kids more feedback and more opportunities where supportive instruction and learning can take place."

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