The Reading Progress feature works by allowing students to record themselves reading a passage of text, giving teachers the ability to rate accuracy rates, pronunciation errors, and more.
Usually, students practice reading fluently in front of the teacher as they read a passage aloud and the teacher marks it accordingly. Teachers measure reading speed, accuracy, and articulation as part of this process.
Children prefer reading via the computer, and the more loud a student reads, the better his fluency.
The new feature within Microsoft Teams helps teachers manage reading tests more flexibly, relieve stress on students, and identify and track important reading events, such as word skipping and self-corrections.
Microsoft accelerated its work on this feature during the pandemic, when it became apparent that it would be difficult for teachers to measure reading fluency from a distance.
The company said: The issue of practicing reading fluency has become difficult with the epidemic because you cannot be around students, and although you can use Microsoft Teams for that, the vast majority of teachers do not.
A recent study by Stanford University found that the epidemic affected students’ ability to read, with a 30 percent decrease in reading fluency in the early grades.
Microsoft is testing an initial version of the feature with more than 350 teachers since October, and is now ready to release it as a free add-on before the next school year.
The technology is powered by Azure, allowing the teacher to adjust its sensitivity to measure students with speech disorders or dyslexia.
The feature uses some of the same speech technology used in the PowerPoint presenter coach.
Microsoft built a misspelled API that basically measures confidence intervals and separates words based on a segment of text that the student is asked to read.
Teachers watch a full dashboard displaying words per minute and accuracy rate, and they will have the ability to switch to a specific word to hear students say it.
If teachers don’t want automatic detection, they can turn it off, watch a student reading video, and then manually evaluate it.
This speech technology also deals with different dialects, although Microsoft initially only releases it to English-language audiences in the United States.
Microsoft now hopes that this technology can be used outside of students in elementary schools to aid reading mastery in special education, adult literacy and anywhere else.
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