Pioneering Computer-Based Measurement of Oral Fluency!
Once again, we were incredibly fortunate to have a mentor with deep experience and a vast network of solid connections in Education technology. He introduced us to NWEA of Portland, Oregon. It was like taking an elevator up to the C-Suite and I was very fortunate to be able to form great relationships with the leadership of NWEA as we began the next phase of our journey in 2014.
NWEA is an extremely well-regarded developer of assessments for the K-12 market. They were a non-profit organization up until April of this year with a very large market share and a reputation for reliable and valid assessments used by teachers to inform on instruction and in turn, improve outcomes.
Their interest in our speech analytics capability was in the potential it held for automating a process that has been done manually for decades. That process is that of measuring a student’s oral fluency. Traditionally this is accomplished by a teacher or paraprofessional sitting knee to knee with a student, a passage for the student to read, a copy for the teacher to mark up, and a stopwatch for the teacher to clock one minute. As the child reads, the teacher marks up her copy of the passage to indicate which words were not read correctly. At the end of one minute, she stops, tallies up the errors, and produces the test result, in terms of WCPM (Words correct per minute). NWEA asked us to explore with them if this process could be accomplished by a computer, with the child reading from the computer screen and recording their passage into a microphone, instead of the traditional way, knee to knee.
The upside would be to save thousands of hours of teachers’ time across the country every year and to hold each student to a single, common standard. But could it be done?
Again, since you are reading this post 8 years later, you know the answer was yes! Our partnership with NWEA, who is now a division of HMH, has expanded and matured a great deal. The fusion of NWEA’s academic and psychometric expertise with LanguaMetrics’ AI and speech analytics has produced a wonderful product. The product was eventually named MAP Reading Fluency and has gone on to deploy over one million assessments. It is a Codie Award winner and has also been available in Spanish since 2020. We are very proud to say that MAP Reading Fluency is Powered by LanguaMetrics.
In our next episode, how LanguaMetrics came to apply its AI and Speech analytics in a very different domain from Education, the global customer service industry…