Blended Learning

Arizona Board of Ed to Pilot English Language Learning Software

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE), in cooperation with the Arizona State Board of Education, has launched a two-year pilot program of a technology-based language development and literacy intervention program for English language learners (ELLs) in kindergarten through grade 6.

Approximately 70,000 K-12 students in the state are English language learners, according to a news release. In 2015, only 2 percent of English language learners passed the language arts section of the AzMERIT statewide achievement test, and only 6 percent passed the math section.

The Arizona Department of Education and Arizona State Board of Education conducted a competitive bidding and review process before selecting Build English Fast from Scientific Learning Corp. "Build English Fast met all of the requirements for our pilot program, including providing individualized, adaptive instruction in the five strands of literacy; integrated assessment; and alignment with Arizona's academic and English language proficiency standards," said Kelly Koenig, deputy associate superintendent with the ADE Office of English Language Acquisition Services, in a news release.

Build English Fast has two components, including the Fast ForWord reading remediation program and the Reading Assistant digital reading tutor that uses speech recognition technology to listen to and support English language learners as they read aloud. According to the company, Build English Fast "addresses three critical steps for English language proficiency. First, it prepares the brain to "hear" the sounds of English. Second, it provides individualized, intensive practice in English vocabulary, grammar and reading skills. Third, it uses advanced speech recognition technology to give students the opportunity to practice speaking and reading aloud, while receiving real-time corrective feedback."

Teacher training for the two-year pilot program will begin in August 2016, and in the fall 4,000 English language learners in kindergarten through grade 6 will begin using the program.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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