SOURCE: Soliloquy Learning

June 13, 2007 09:00 ET

Chelsea, MA Elementary School Students Make Unprecedented Strides in Reading

Soliloquy Reading Assistant Helps Struggling Third and Fourth Graders Improve Their Fluency at Rates More Than Double the National Average

CHELSEA, MA--(Marketwire - June 13, 2007) - Four of the five elementary schools in Chelsea, MA have increased reading fluency by 112% above national norms in third grade, and by 108% above national norms in fourth grade. The schools incorporated Soliloquy Reading Assistant, a reading program using speech recognition technology, into their curricula as part of an initiative to bring struggling students up to grade reading level. The results of testing done near the end of the school year demonstrated above average improvement for all third and fourth graders using the technology, reversing years of district results below the national average.

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of standardized measures used by schools across the country to gauge early literacy skills development. Measurements of Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) are made by counting the number of words read correctly per minute. For the average performing third grader, DIBELS predicts an increase in ORF from Fall to Spring of 33 Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM), and of 25 WCPM for fourth graders. Likewise, DIBELS predicts ORF from Winter to Spring to increase by 15 WCPM for third graders, and by 13 WCPM for fourth graders.

The following chart compares the ORF score gains that Chelsea students made, some between their Fall and Spring DIBELS assessments and some between Winter and Spring DIBELS assessments to those that national norms predict. The difference accounts for some students beginning to use Soliloquy Reading Assistant in the Fall, and others in Winter. The average percent increase over the national norms is 112% for third graders and 108% for fourth graders.

                              Actual 2006-7 Gains   National Average Gains
                            ----------------------- -----------------------
School                      3rd Grade   4th Grade   3rd grade   4th grade
                            ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
William A. Berkowitz
 Elementary                          35          39          15          25
                            ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Edgar F. Hooks Elementary            43          35          15          13
                            ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
George F. Kelly Elementary           34          27          15          13
                            ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Frank M Sokolowski
 Elementary                          33          50          33          25
                            ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
The Chelsea district purchased the technology with Reading First funds in the summer of 2006.

"These results are unprecedented," enthusiastically remarked Denise Maresco, Chelsea District Literacy Program Director. "We have been searching for a solution that would work for every student and Soliloquy has met our needs and exceeded our expectations."

The majority of the student body in Chelsea is below the poverty line, which often translates to low achievement levels in school. Students in each school who demonstrated at-risk reading performance were selected to use the program.

Jenna Rooney Keaney, Reading Coach at the William A. Berkowitz Elementary School, where third and fourth graders have been using the program for 30-minute sessions four times a week, reflected, "Many of these students have been receiving supplemental intervention in school, after school and before school since first grade and they have never made progress comparable to what we have seen with the use of Soliloquy."

Soliloquy Reading Assistant helps students to enhance reading fluency by providing them with a one-on-one guided reading experience. Students read e-books on a computer using a standard headset and microphone. Through proprietary speech-recognition technology, the software is able to "listen" and recognize when readers hesitate or make mistakes on specific words. When a student struggles, the program assists or corrects the reader by repeating the word clearly while creating a record of it for the teacher to review. Vocabulary assistance and comprehension questions are other features of the program. When students do not know a word's meaning, they can click on it for a context-sensitive definition, pronunciation example and photographic memory aid. As the students read, comprehension questions are presented to ensure understanding. Students can also have the stories read to them, and compare the model with their own version to improve pronunciation and intonation.

"Soliloquy enables teachers to be more efficient with their time," said Joanne Jackmauh, Title 1 Reading Teacher at George F. Kelly Elementary. "With it, we can support a far greater number of students who need practice. In my intervention groups, I have been able to help at least 12 students per group, which is 11 more than I would have been able to help without the program!"

"Chelsea is a vivid example of how effective our software can be," said Jon Bower, the CEO of Soliloquy Learning, which develops Soliloquy Reading Assistant. "Our program is in schools across the country, but it feels extra special to be part of the solution for this district because these students are our neighbors." Soliloquy Learning is based in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Soliloquy Reading Assistant is available for students in grades 1-12, plus adult remedial reading programs. For elementary students (grades 1-5), reading content is drawn from children's stories, poems and expository passages to build literature appreciation. For secondary students (5-12), content is drawn from science and social studies subjects required by many state standards, providing experience with the content to improve comprehension later on. Since its launch in 2002, various versions of Soliloquy Reading Assistant have been used by over 5,000 schools across the country. For more information, visit www.soliloquylearning.com, or call 1-877-235-6036.

About Soliloquy Learning, Inc.

Founded in 2000, Soliloquy Learning has pioneered new and effective methods for improving reading and spoken language skills. The company's flagship product, Soliloquy Reading Assistant, provides one-on-one reading support, using proprietary speech recognition technology to monitor and assist students through Guided Oral Reading, the research-proven best practice for fostering reading progress beyond the basics. Design has been led by literacy expert, Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams. Research on the efficacy of Soliloquy Reading Assistant has been sponsored through research grants from NICHD and IES . Soliloquy Learning is a privately held company based in Waltham, Mass. For more information visit: http://www.soliloquylearning.com.

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