Among the many tasks required of teachers in primary schools is that of assessing the reading level of each pupil, usually by a time-consuming and intensive individual examination. Microsoft’s new Reading Progress app takes some of the load off the teacher’s shoulders, enabling children to read at home and using natural language comprehension to help highlight obstacles and progress.
The past year has turned most education plans upside down and reading levels have not progressed as they would if the children were in school. Companies like Amira are emerging to fill the void with AI-controlled reading, and Microsoft aims to provide teachers with more tools on their side.
Reading Progress is an add-on for Microsoft Teams that helps teachers administer reading tests more flexibly, by relieving pressure on students who might trip up during a command execution, and by identifying and tracking events. important reading materials such as skip words and self-corrections.
Teachers choose reading assignments for each student (or the whole class) to read, and children do it at their own pace, more like doing homework than taking a test. They record video directly into the app, the audio of which is analyzed by algorithms monitoring the usual stumbles.
As you can see in this Brielle 4th Grader video testimonial, it may be best for many children:
If a bright, confident kid like Brielle feels better doing it this way (and now reads two years before her grade, nice job Brielle!), What about kids who have trouble reading due to dyslexia or worried about their accent, or just shy? Being able to simply talk to their own camera, on their own in their own home, could improve reading – and therefore more accurate assessment.
It’s not meant to be a complete teacher replacement, of course – it’s a tool that allows overworked educators to prioritize and focus better and follow things more objectively. It’s similar to how Amira isn’t supposed to replace in-person reading groups – impossible during the pandemic – but provides an equally useful process to quickly correct common mistakes and encourage the reader.
Microsoft today posted about half a dozen things about reading progress. Here is his origin story, a basic rundown, his product hub, a walkthrough video, and quotes supporting his approach. There’s more, too, in this omnibus article on new education-related products now (or soon).