New Word Prediction Tools in WriteToLearn Provide Increased Support for Building Literacy Skills

6/5/2013 12:00:00 AM

Pearson and Texthelp Collaborate to Help English Language Learners, Struggling Readers and Writers Prepare for Common Core

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – June 4, 2013 As the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) releases its draft accommodations and accessibility policy for the Common Core assessments, Pearson and Texthelp are collaborating once again to ensure that WriteToLearn provides struggling readers and writers, particularly students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs), with additional tools for writing support.

Beginning in the fall of 2013, Pearson’s award-winning online literacy tool will feature Texthelp’s word prediction technology. This allows struggling readers and writers to select correct word choices with fewer keystrokes and, ultimately, produce writing products with greater skill. PARCC recently proposed word prediction as an allowable accommodation for students with disabilities on its Common Core writing exam.

“As we move into the new era of Common Core high stakes assessments, it is particularly critical that students of all abilities have access to the learning resources and tools to prepare for success," said Alistair Van Moere, president, of the Knowledge Technologies business of Pearson. “Our collaboration with Texthelp to integrate these types of learning aids into WriteToLearn is illustrative of Pearson’s ongoing commitment to ensuring that all students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and career.”

WriteToLearn’s other built-in language tools from Texthelp act as a personal tutor to help alleviate reading difficulties. The toolbar includes an embedded picture/text dictionary, spot word translation, and text-to-speech, which allows the student to hear highlighted text read aloud. The combination of visual and audio input has been shown to improve comprehension for struggling students, and assists English learners as well. WriteToLearn also provides translated instructions and student feedback in both Spanish and Chinese.

“Adding word prediction to the embedded language support tools from Texthelp that are already integrated into WriteToLearn provides an effective environment for students of all abilities to build the reading and writing skills requisite to meet the learning goals delineated in the Common Core,” said Jack Dolan, President, Texthelp Inc.

A study conducted by the Washington State Special Educational Technology Center at Central Washington University demonstrated that students with learning disabilities using Texthelp’s technologies showed significant gains in writing skills. In addition, nearly half of the teachers in the study credited the assistive technology with helping students complete their school work, which in turn increase their confidence, motivation, and overall achievement.

WriteToLearn is a complete literacy tool to support the implementation of the Common Core, providing summary writing to develop reading comprehension; vocabulary exercises in select reading passages to expand students' word knowledge; and essay writing to build on writing skills. The award-winning online tool features nearly 1,000 reading passages and more than 500 essay prompts which include engaging Visual Writing Prompts that allow students to make a visual connection to the topic they are being asked to write about. In addition, WriteToLearn includes argumentative writing prompts that challenge students to think critically, a core skill delineated in the new standards. The summary writing component of WriteToLearn places strong emphasis on the comprehension and analysis of the types of informational texts also detailed in the new standards.

WriteToLearn qualifies for federal funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information, visit http://www.writetolearn.net.

About Texthelp Inc.

Texthelp Inc. (www.texthelp.com) provides literacy software solutions for individuals, K-12, higher education, and publishers. Texthelp's solutions include: Read&Write, Fluency Tutor, Lexiflow, and SpeechStream. Read&Write provides support on the Desktop, Cloud, and iPad. Read&Write Gold for PC or Mac is a customizable toolbar that integrates with common applications giving users access to reading, writing, studying, and research tools. Read&Write Cloud offerings include Read&Write for Google Docs™, a Chrome Extension to make Google Docs accessible, and Web Apps that work in browsers on iPads, iPhones, and more! iReadWrite for the iPad benefits struggling readers and writers with text-to-speech, word prediction, phonetic spell checker, dictionary, and picture dictionary supports. Fluency Tutor is an online solution for developing and measuring oral reading fluency and comprehension. Lexiflow and SpeechStream allow publishers to deliver digital talking ebooks, assessments, and online content with support tools.

About Pearson

Pearson is the world’s leading learning company, providing educational materials and services, business information through the Financial Times Group, and consumer publishing through the Penguin brand. Pearson serves learners of all ages around the globe, employing 41,000 people in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.pearson.com.

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