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After a year of practicing resiliency, building technology and self-management skills, and navigating emotional turmoil, students are preparing to return to a rigorous school experience without some of the skills they would have built in a normal year. A recent study from Stanford illustrated the flattened growth of Oral Reading Fluency during the pandemic. In a broad sample of districts, second and third graders performed about 30 percent behind expectations, with the most severe impact concentrated in already struggling schools. In an environment of continued disruption and uncertainty, we are excited to introduce Reading Progress as a resource to help build opportunities for students and educators to get back on track in a non-stigmatizing and highly customizable way.
Reading Progress in Teams supports students in building fluency through independent reading practice, educator review, and educator insights. Educators can upload a single reading fluency assignment or differentiate for their class’ many levels. Students read their passages out loud, creating an audio/video recording teachers can access and review at their convenience. Traditionally, tracking students’ fluency is irregular and time consuming because it requires one on one close listening, while somehow still managing the remainder of the class. Creating recordings allows educators to check students’ progress more regularly while also freeing up time for active instruction. By empowering students to complete their reading fluency assignments regularly and independently, Reading Progress keeps the focus on practice and growth, not performing under pressure. Now reading fluency practice can happen anywhere!
Whether educators used the Auto-detect feature for quick review, or manually code errors, valuable data is collected in Insights. Teams Education Insights dashboards help visualize class and individual progress. Insights provides a holistic view of trends and data including accuracy rate, correct words per minute, mispronunciations, omissions and insertions. Reading Progress also highlights actionable insights for educators including common challenges across the entire class or per student.
During our broad private preview, Reading Progress has been tested in a number of distinct use cases. We’ve seen the expected wide usage for ages 6-11 as well as utilization for middle and high school fluency checks, special education and dyslexia support, and for building English skills for non-native speakers, both in English dominant areas and where it’s taught as world language. We’ve also seen high interest for adult literacy scenarios. The stigma of reading out loud and lack of educator time has previously made consistent fluency practice in post-elementary education settings minimal. The implications of a private and regular space for older learners to practice fluency are immense. Here are two observations from some educators who have been part of the early private preview:
Joe Merrill, an educator from Lake Park Elementary, Florida, has been using Reading Progress in our private preview over the past few months with his class and he has this to say “Reading Progress takes all the nerves out of my student’s fluency checks. They are comfortable with its approach and I am able to collect data quicker and more efficiently than ever before. Now, I can devote more time to differentiated instruction rather than individualized assessments.”
Luis Oliviera, Director of Unified Arts and ELA from Middletown High School in Middletown, RI , has been using Reading Progress with his older English Language Learner students and has this to say: “Reading Progress has been such a time saver for assessing and analyzing my high school ELL students’ reading fluency. I am able to give a passage to the entire class and have them record their responses instead of having to individually assess the students. Cultural selections for the reading passages enhance their knowledge of important topics and current events. This allows more time to work directly with the students in addressing their needs.”
From the beginning, the creation and testing of this tool has been a and has been rooted in the science and literature of reading fluency. Our team has worked with hundreds of educators, literacy specialists and reading scientists. Early on, we had many interviews, brainstorming sessions and “design jams” with experts like Shaelynn Farnsworth, Lauren Taylor, Andrew Fitzgerald, Lauren Pittman, amongst many others. We’ve consulted with students, iterated on different designs, and have much more in store!
Four parts to the Reading Progress experience
1) Assignment creation – Reading Progress is built directly into the free Teams Assignments experience. Once an educator selects Create>Assignment, the Add resource button now includes Reading Progress (Beta) for the private beta group. The educator then completes the creation of the assignment, including uploading the Word document of their choice. This summer educators can look forward to the addition of PDF capabilities and a partnership with ReadWorks that includes a small library of curated reading passages. The educator can also manually set the Reading Level, Number of attempts, Genre, and Sensitivity. I call this the “picky dial” – how picky would you like the software to be. For example, younger readers may need more relaxed pronunciation expectations, while older readers might be set to higher sensitivity. Note that this can be changed during the review experience as well.
2) Student reading and recording: When students receive the Reading Progress assignment, they open it to see a recording experience. By default, video recording will be enabled, but teachers can approve audio-only if needed. Similar to Flipgrid, the student will start the recording, get a countdown, and then the reading passage will open for the student to read.
We’ve integrated aspects of the Immersive Reader into this experience to support students in customizing the way the passage looks before they start reading.
3) Educator review: One of the most powerful aspects for Reading Progress is the quick and easy review process, which simultaneously returns work to students and collects fluency data in Insights. This experience is built-in to the Teams grading and review experience. The review page pulls together the student’s reading recording, words per minute count, accuracy rate, and the ability to fine tune pronunciation sensitivity.
By default, the Auto-Detect feature is enabled, so you will see predicted mispronunciations, omissions, insertions, self-corrections, and repetitions. The educator can review the Auto-correct data, overriding any inaccuracies, or turn off Auto-detect to mark up the page manually as they listen to the recording, similar to how reading fluency checks are done with paper and pen. To account for different speech patterns and accents, the educator can change the pronunciation sensitivity analyzes results to make teacher review faster and more accurate. In addition, with a single click the educator can jump to any part of the recording to review detected words or passages.
4) Powerful insights to track student progress: Fluency data from Reading Progress is collected in Insights to support educators in taking evidence-based action for literacy in their classrooms. Insights dashboards help visualize progress and trends such as accuracy rate, correct words per minute, mispronunciations, omissions, and insertions. Reading Progress also highlights actionable insights for educators, synthesizing common challenges across the entire class or per student. Educators can share Insights dashboard access to collaborate with literacy coaches, speech pathologists, and reading specialists and more to holistically curate student-centered approaches.
Later this summer education leaders will be able to access Reading Progress data by opting into our new Education Insights Premium designed to compile organization-wide data for intentional and impactful leadership. which is designed for school leaders and organization-wide views. To learn more about this new Insights offering, visit the Education Insights Premium page.
Average words per minute and accuracy across a class or by student
Word cloud of most challenging word across a class or by student
A Reading Progress end-to-end demo
We’ve put together a support materials as well as an end-to-end video showing the details of how the entire Reading Progress experience works in Teams for Education:
Kate Griggs, founder of CEO of Made by Dyslexia, has had access to our early versions of Reading Progress and has this to say “Reading Progress is a FANTASTIC resource for teachers of, and children with dyslexia. Reading aloud is something dyslexic students really struggle with and literally dread doing, even in small groups or 1:1 with a teacher. Reading Progress offers a great way for dyslexic students to demonstrate what they can do, without feeling embarrassed or nervous. This will be a game changer”.
Reading Progress is currently in wide private testing with thousands of educators and is supported on Desktop, web, Mac, iOS and Android. We are actively listening to educator and student feedback and updating and improving the tool regularly to meet your needs. We will continue adding more schools to our private preview, and anticipate having Reading Progress at General Availability by late August of 2021, in time for back to school (Northern Hemisphere).
We have many improvements coming this summer, including support for PDF upload, iOS and Android video, a sample content library from ReadWorks, and the highly requested integration and roll up into Education Insights Premium. This will allow schools and districts to aggregate and roll up Reading Progress data into broader dashboards and analytics through the just-announced Education Insights Premium offering.
We also have a new Reading Progress page on the Microsoft Educator Center, and a MEC course coming later this summer.
A huge THANK YOU to all of the educators, students, and reading experts who have worked with us and given us feedback along this exciting journey. We look forward to collaborating with you as we continue!
Principal Product Manager
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.