RTI program supported by reading software

Kanawha County Schools, the largest public school district in West Virginia and the district serving the state capital of Charleston, has selected Reading Assistant™ from Scientific Learning to help boost the performance of struggling fourth and fifth grade readers in the district’s 26 Title I elementary schools.

According to Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent of elementary education at Kanawha, Reading Assistant will be a key component of the district’s Response to Intervention (RtI) program, which is being expanded this year to serve students in kindergarten through fifth grade. A committee consisting of Superintendent Dr. Ron Duerring, reading specialists, principals and other administrators reviewed several programs and selected Reading Assistant to be used with Tier 2 students in the RtI program.

The Reading Assistant reading intervention software combines advanced speech recognition technology with scientifically-based interventions to help students strengthen their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Through its research-validated speech recognition technology, Reading Assistant “listens” as students read aloud, and provides assistance and feedback whenever students are challenged by a word. “Some schools don’t have the staff for intensive small-group intervention lessons,” explained Roberts. “Reading Assistant makes oral reading practice possible even when their teacher cannot be nearby.”

Roberts also stated that the software’s capacity for saying unfamiliar words aloud at students’ request, as well as its ability to provide contextual sentences and picture representations, are among the features that she and the review committee believe will be of special benefit to struggling readers. Other features the committee cited as particularly beneficial for Kanawha students are the software’s abilities to model selected reading so pupils can hear the correct pronunciation and inflection beforehand; record oral reading so users can privately play back and assess their own efforts; and display quiz scores, fluency scores and more so students can take ownership of their own advancement while teachers are updated on their development.

The district purchased the software licenses in the second quarter 2009 and plans to implement Reading Assistant in Kanawha County’s 26 Title I elementary schools during the 2009-10 school year.