Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Contract

Title: SkillCheck: Automatic Early Reading Diagnosis and Intervention
Center: NCER Year: 2021
Principal Investigator: Bernstein, Jared Awardee: Analytic Measures
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (05/01/2021 –04/30/2023) Award Amount: $900,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990021C0040

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: In a prior SBIR project, the team developed Moby.Read, a tablet-based speech recognition app for grade school students to self-administer oral-reading fluency assessments. In this project, the team will fully develop a component that uses natural language processing to assess and then recommend specific activities to improve oral reading. Significant reading problems must be detected and addressed early to keep all students on track. However, in-person oral reading fluency assessments are time-consuming, expensive, or often unavailable, and not provide actionable guidance on how student to improve oral reading.

Project Activities:  In Phase I in 2020, the team developed a prototype of a natural language processing software that rates students' oral reading fluency and generates personalized instructional activities to improve oral reading. Pilot research at the end of Phase I with 165 students in grades one to four demonstrated that the prototype functioned as expected, that students were able to complete one oral reading task independently, and that the prototype generated diagnostic and formative information to students on their strengths and areas to improve their oral reading.

Phase II will focus on creating more passages and fully developing the formative assessment mechanism that recommends personalized practice activities for students based on their level of oral reading fluency. After development is complete, researchers will conduct a pilot study with 20 grade one and three classrooms, with 20 students per classroom. Half of the classrooms with be assigned to use the treatment and half will be assigned to the control a group and will follow the business-as-usual procedure. The study will examine the feasibility, usability, fidelity, and the accuracy of the product for assessing and then guiding subsequent in oral reading fluency activities. Researchers will compare the pre- to-post scores on a researcher developed measure of diagnostic oral reading. Researchers will gather cost information using the "ingredients method" and will include all expenditures on things such as personnel, facilities, equipment, materials, and training.

Product: Through a 2014 contract from the NAEP program at the National Center for Education Statistics and during an ED SBIR award completed in 2019, the team developed Moby.Read, a tablet-based app where grade school students read a passage aloud and the speech-recognition software generates an assessment of oral-reading fluency in real-time. This project will develop SkillCheck, a component to add to Moby.Read. Employing natural language processing software, SkillCheck will analyze recordings of oral reading renditions of text passages and produce interactive report pages that rate and illustrate the student's basic reading skills as analyzed from recorded read-aloud performances. SkillCheck will then present strengths and weaknesses and recommend practice activities appropriate for the level of individual students. A reporting dashboard will provide teachers information on student progress.

Related IES Projects: Early Reading Diagnostic Profiler (91990020C0070); Moby.Read: Automated Basic Reading Assessment (EDIES17C0030 and EDIES16C0004)