Industry News

MetaMetrics Partners with SoapBox Labs to offer edtech companies voice-enabled reading assessments.

By eLearning Inside
March 21, 2022

DUBLIN, Ireland & DURHAM, NC MetaMetrics®, developer of the widely adopted Lexile® Framework, and SoapBox Labs, provider of specialist speech recognition technology for kids, today announced a partnership to automate the evaluation of oral reading fluency for students pre K-12 using voice-enabled assessments.

The Lexile Framework for Oral Reading measures the oral readability of a text-based on Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM) but also uniquely takes into account the difficulty of the passage the student is tested on. With this new partnership, the time-consuming manual calculation of a student’s oral reading measure is replaced by a voice-enabled approach that’s automated, reliable and proven. The dynamic feedback loop offered by the SoapBox voice engine also allows young students’ proficiency to be benchmarked more regularly, giving teachers better data and insights to help even the youngest learners build foundational reading skills.

“For decades, we’ve imagined the vast potential for speech recognition technology when it comes to measuring a child’s reading fluency. Developed by applying learning technology to thousands of hours of children’s speech, SoapBox Labs’ voice engine offers a world-class platform for delivering our Lexile oral reading measures to learners around the world,” said Dr. Malbert Smith, CEO and co-founder, MetaMetrics.

“With an increasing number of students lagging behind in reading, it is more important now than ever before to gain insights that will accelerate children’s literacy development.”

SoapBox Labs’ deep understanding of how children acquire language and literacy, including the unique qualities of young children’s phonics, has allowed their speech recognition technology to accurately and efficiently automate the scoring of oral reading, similar to how a teacher might in the classroom. In evaluating SoapBox Labs’ technology, MetaMetrics researchers found a very high correlation between the SoapBox voice engine and human annotators when assessing for oral reading fluency, surpassing their rigorous criteria for approved partners. The evaluation also found no meaningful difference between the scores generated by SoapBox’s voice engine and human assessors.

“The Lexile Framework has, for years, provided parents, educators — and learners — with understanding and insights to unlock reading potential at nearly every level,” said Dr. Martyn Farrows, CEO, SoapBox Labs.

“Measurement of oral reading fluency is such a natural and important application of our voice technology. We are immensely proud to have our voice engine validated by a partner as fundamental and iconic to literacy learning as MetaMetrics, and to partner with them as we create a new era of literacy assessment.”

To learn more about this partnership and the future of voice-enabled assessments of oral reading, register for the webinar, “SoapBox Labs + MetaMetrics: Rethinking reading assessment with the Lexile Framework for Oral Reading and kid-specific voice technology,” on April 19, at 11 am ET/4 pm GMT.

SoapBox Labs proprietary high accuracy speech recognition technology caters to the idiosyncrasies and unique speech patterns of children that adult-focused speech technology finds hard to decode. Built from the ground up by a team of world-renowned speech recognition and AI experts, our privacy-driven voice engine powers a wide range of third party experiences from literacy and English language learning to digital gaming and interactive tv for children grades pre K-12.

SoapBox’s award-winning voice engine powers educational tools, including voice-enabled oral reading fluency assessments, for education powerhouses like McGraw Hill and pioneers like Amplify. It is also the voice technology of choice for the Reach Every Reader initiative, a partnership between the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative and Florida State University which is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

SoapBox Labs was founded by Dr. Patricia Scanlon, whose popular ​TEDx talk explains how voice technology can “transform a child’s reading journey.” Scanlon was named a “visionary in voice” in 2020. She has also been named to Forbes list of the Top 50 Women in Tech globally.

MetaMetrics is an award-winning education technology organization that offers the only scientifically valid, universal scales for measuring silent and oral reading and listening (Lexile) and math (Quantile) with plans to develop measures for writing. The Lexile and Quantile Frameworks measure student ability and the complexity of the content they encounter. Lexile and Quantile measures and related technologies link assessment to instruction and provide next steps for students of all ages and abilities. The measures also provide valuable insights about students’ potential for growth. MetaMetrics’ measures, products and services are licensed to dozens of education product companies to help achieve that growth. For 35 years, MetaMetrics’ work is increasingly recognized for its research-based approach to improving learning.

Featured image: Sergey Zolkin, Unsplash.