Closing the loop: from assessment to action

An Oral Fluency test that offers a holistic view of student performance and areas of improvement

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) has become a standard assessment across most of the schools in developed countries. ORF is a good indicator of an individual’s reading and fluency level. But, ORF test has seen a low adoption rate in schools in India and other Asian countries as it can be administered only in a one to one setting where a teacher manually scores a student while he reads a given passage for one minute. This resource intensive nature of the test does not make it an ideal feature, especially in Indian schools, where teachers are already burdened with heavy workloads.

To overcome this issue, Freadom has developed an automated fluency test by leveraging advances in speech recognition technology. Now any student in India in grades 1 to 6 can take this test online and get their personal report within minutes.

Performance on ORF test is measured by counting the number of words each student speaks, correctly, in one minute. WCPM (word correct per minute) is the key metric all the Oral Fluency assessments report universally. Researchers have also developed benchmarks that indicate the expected range of WCPM for each grade for native speakers. The value of such benchmarks is not hard to see – Educators can compare the WCPM value for their students with these pre-established benchmarks to identify those students who may be lagging behind and need special attention.

But such benchmarks do not exist for non-native English speakers yet. Freadom is collating this data for Indian demography in the hope that this will be very helpful for teachers. A broader picture about the WCPM benchmarks for Non-native speakers has already started to emerge. As more and more students take this test, the benchmarks will become more robust and reliable.

How in-depth Oral Fluency report can help teachers adapt class instructions to students need

We also decided to report student performance on different components of fluency in addition to the WCPM measure. The existing ORF tests only report the WCPM metric and hence are helpful in raising a flag when a student falls behind but at the same time these assessments fail to inform the teachers on the right interventions strategies that can help the child catch up with his peers. To ensure that the ORF assessments also help teachers identify prospective intervention strategies, we provide separate scores on pronunciation, reading rate, fluency and pitch/tone along with WCPM. A separate score for each of the above components can be helpful in detecting the underlying problems and selecting the intervention method that is just right for the student.

We have identified 8 distinct profiles along the journey to achieving proficient oral fluency. Each profile requires a different set of practice exercises that are most appropriate and relevant at that stage.

The above grid gives a snapshot of some of the targeted interventions that teachers can try out in the class based on the performance of their students in the individual components of Pronunciation, Reading rate and Fluency.

To aid the teachers in selecting the right instructional material for their class, we also provide a student level report and the breakup of the whole class into these 8 stages. Teachers can use this information to identify which topics or materials need more in-depth focus or revision in the class. Where possible, they can divide the students into different groups where each group falls into one of the categories and support differentiated instruction in class.

Such in-depth diagnostic information for each and every student can be very powerful in the hands of teachers who are committed to achieving the best learning outcomes for their students and Freadom is a steadfast companion for such teachers to support them in their journey!!

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