Schools Help Struggling Readers with Soliloquy

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Over the last month, two schools and one district have reported improvements in student achievement in reading resulting from a reading program based around speech recognition technology, Soliloquy Reading Assistant from Soliloquy Learning.

Soliloquy Reading Assistant (SRA) provides a one to one, guided oral reading program that uses speech recognition technology to improve fluency and vocabulary. With SRA, students read e-books into a computer using a headset and microphone. The software, which incorporates speech recognition, listens to the students and corrects mistakes on the part of the readers and speaks the word. It also makes records of sessions for review by teachers later, and it provides definitions for individual words when requested by the student.

In Texas, Laredo Independent School District adopted SRA this academic year in an effort to improve reading fluency among special education students across 20 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools. The students are using SRA on average three days per week, 25 minutes per session. The district reported this week that it is seeing an impact on reading achievement through the program.

"We began district-wide usage of Soliloquy Reading Assistant in September," said Alma Rodriguez, assistive technology coordinator for Laredo ISD. "We needed this program because [more than 90] percent of the students in the district speak Spanish at home, so it is challenging for many to practice their English reading skills with their parents. This program is giving them the feedback they need to develop fluency in English. In less than a year of using the program, the students in all grade levels are experiencing significant improvements. They are learning to love reading!"

Over in Alabama, Daphne Elementary School South has implemented Reading Assistant to help develop reading fluency among a wide variety of students, including "mainstream," struggling readers, ELL students, and special education students. In total, the school has 322 students on Reading Assistant. The program had previously been implemented for special education students only but was expanded beginning in September 2006.

And over in Florida, Rosemont Elementary has deployed Reading Assistant for 60 "struggling readers" in the third, fourth and fifth grades. Students began using the system in October 2006. The school reported that after two months of use, those students improved their DIBELS assessment results, wit the majority reaching the next level of literacy. The students had been chosen for the program based on their previous DIBELS performance, having been ranked at the lowest level of literacy.

"We've implemented many other programs at Rosemont, and we've never seen such great results so quickly," said Jacqueline Oester, a reading support teacher at Rosemont. "The students love it because it allows them to practice reading in a neutral setting, in which they are not judged by peers. This has also helped to boost their self esteem. Our hope is that when our students take the spring DIBELS at the end of this month, they will continue to show increased improvement in their reading fluency," she continued.

Rosemont has been using Reading Assistant four days per week, 15 minutes per day during computer lab, in addition to the school's daily 90-minute reading period.

Soliloquy Reading Assistant is designed for grades 1-12, as well as adult remedial reading programs. More than 5,000 schools have adopted the system since its launch in 2002.

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About the author: Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Have any additional questions? Want to share your story? Want to pass along a news tip? Contact Dave Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

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