This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to address the educational needs of children at risk of reading failure in early grades, and specifically, to provide technology-based reading instruction, adaptive instructional strategies, ongoing curriculum-embedded assessments with graphical reporting, and instructional methods to support learning to read in early grades. Substantial evidence supports the effectiveness of the print-based Reading for All Learners Program (RALP) and its precursor, the SWRL little books, as summarized in the proposal. The tablet version of RALP will incorporate a student assessment and monitoring (SAM) system to ensure adequate reading progress, including measures of reading fluency and comprehension, and adaptive instructional recommendations based on student needs. Additionally, the project will incorporate voice recognition software to add a test of reading comprehension and to provide recorded student practice with feedback. Designed for teacher-led instruction with large or small groups, or one-on-one instruction with struggling students at school or home, RALP + SAM will provide instructional prompts for effective teaching and implementation. This Phase I project will investigate feasibility, identify needs and recommendations for a tablet-based adaptation from users of the print-based product, and test tablet-based adaptations and assessment, including voice recognition for reading comprehension assessment.

The broader impact/commercial potential of this project relates to students at high risk for reading failure and the need for effective early intervention to reach grade level reading, math, and science goals. On the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 67% of students performed at or below the basic level, and only 33% were proficient or advanced (NCES, 2010). According to NAEP researchers, students performing at or below a basic level only have ?partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade.? Recently, Hernandez (2011) found that children who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out before graduating from high school, and six times more likely to drop out of they have not mastered even basic reading skills. This project develops a cross-platform tablet-based reading curriculum program to assist teachers and caregivers with delivery of effective instruction. This project will build upon the RALP K-3 curriculum. By integrating effective reading intervention with tablet-based computers, the reading program will have streamlined data collection, enhanced data-driven decision making, tablet-based assessment and reporting, and improved learner outcomes through adaptive instruction based on individual learner needs.

Project Report

The focus of this project is to address the educational needs of children at risk of reading failure in early grades, and specifically, to provide tablet-based mobile technology intervention with an evidence-based reading program, ongoing curriculum-embedded assessments, and instructional methods to support on- or above-grade level reading in early grades. This program is based on an existing evidence-based reading program, Reading for All Learners™ and includes the development of a new student assessment and monitoring system (SAM). SAM permits the tablet-based, streamlined collection and analysis of key student progress data and the sharing of data with educational team members and parents. While the research team found a large number of mobile device applications which claim to teach reading, the team found very few applications which are supported by credible research or appear to operate in a manner consistent with current reading instruction research. Most applications examined by the research team are narrowly focused skill practice games. At the time of this report the research team was unable to identify any beginning reading applications (K-3) addressing the Five Big Ideas of reading instruction. The objectives of the Phase I research included three major activities, background research, end user research, and prototype development. Background Research An in-depth evaluation of the technical requirements for delivering web-based and application-based software to schools was conducted. The research team examined the changing regulatory environment related to applications, data-collection and children. Market research, surveys and interviews were used to measure the prevalence of mobile devices in schools and other education settings. Finally, additional evidence regarding the efficacy of the current print edition was collected and analyzed. End User Research A thorough evaluation of client needs and desirable product features led the iterative development of a series of paper-based and digital prototypes. The prototypes were reviewed and refined by literacy specialists, classroom teachers, district administrators, and parents. Prototype Development Using both internal and SBIR funds two prototypes were developed: a prototype of the student application Reading For All Learners and a prototype of the web-based Student Assessment and Monitoring system. The Reading For All Learners application was launched in the Apple App store as an iPad application and additional feedback is being collected. At the time of this report the web-based application is being further beta-tested by reading specialists in three school districts. The outcomes from this research and development grant are resoundingly positive. The feedback from users of both SAM and Reading For All Learners has been enthusiastic. At the time of this report the iPad app has a five-star rating in the Apple App Store. Users of the SAM application are anxious for the program to move out of the beta-testing phase. The most current information about the Reading For All Learners and SAM applications is available at

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Academic Success for All Learners
United States
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