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Literably Wins $1M Grant to Address Literacy, Learning Loss

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Literably will further develop its reading assessment platform to help educators tailor reading lessons to student needs and address pandemic-related learning loss.

A woman reading a book in a library.
With so many students struggling with learning loss after remote instruction, San Francisco-based startup Literably, a diagnostic platform to help educators assess student reading capabilities, has been awarded a $1 million grant to advance child literacy through the U.S. Department of Education’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Literably said in a news release that its platform addresses four challenges with teacher-administrated reading assessments, including efficiency, consistency, data access and instructional next steps. The platform quantifies literacy measures to help teachers understand what instructional path might lead each student to a proficient reading level. Through the grant, the developed platform will build off its Oral Reading Fluency and Foundational Skills solutions, features already being used in schools across the country, the release said.

“We are committed to developing a diagnostic assessment tool that teachers love and administrators can rely on, and that allows students to be understood as individuals with unique needs,” Literably CEO Tyler Borek said in a public statement.

The SBIR program is administered by the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences with the goal of providing federal research and development funding to stimulate the small business sector and to address national needs while strengthening educational technological innovation, according to the program’s website. The grant is for two years, during which time the awardee, in this case Literably, is expected to develop a commercially viable education technology product; demonstrate the usability and feasibility of implementing the product in an education delivery setting; evaluate the promise of the product for achieving the intended outcomes when used in classrooms or schools; develop a commercialization plan for the distribution and sustainability of the product; and develop plans to conduct research to evaluate the efficacy of the product.

According to Literably’s website, the platform is in more than 500 schools across 34 states, supports all grade levels and guided reading levels for K-12, and gives educators the ability to pick readings or have the tool select them. From there, a student reads the excerpt aloud, with teachers able to rotate to different students through a station. Teachers also have the ability to test an entire class at once. Each reading is followed up with data, with the tool generating an audio recording, a running record, words correct per minute, percentage accuracy and a Common Core comprehension score, the website said. It then suggests a guided reading level based on all the data.