Review by Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2014


Simple and useful reading fluency assessment tool has potential

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • English Language Learning

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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Pros: It functions very well as an automated, time-saving tool for reading fluency assessment and data tracking.

Cons: The miscue analysis codes can be hard to read; beyond just assessment, instruction in fluency, phonemic awareness, and comprehension skills would be nice.

Bottom Line: It fills an important niche as a way to manage and conduct reading fluency assessments; faster feedback and instructive elements would be nice complements.

Conducting reading-fluency assessments is a great way to get concrete feedback about an important aspect of your students' reading ability. If you don't already, set aside a regular, weekly time to assess progress in reading accuracy, expression, and speed. Even without multiple devices, a digital tool like Literably can be a big help in coordinating so many assessments. Set up one (or a few) classroom computers as assessment stations -- students can cycle through and record during different class activities, as you see fit (independent or group work, SSR, etc.).

The tool is easy enough to use that most students probably won't need extra support after an initial session or two. While there aren't reading selections for students above a 7th grade level, the tool could still be useful for older students who need remediated reading support, especially ELLs. With the Basic (free) plan (15 recordings per month), you could focus on at-risk or special needs students alone, but you'll need a paid subscription for whole-class implementation.

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Literably is a tool for tracking and assessing students' reading fluency. The overall process is relatively simple: Teachers assign readings to students; using a microphone, students record themselves reading the text aloud; Literably scores each recording, sending data and feedback to the teacher. There are more than 50 reading selections spanning grades K-7, most excerpted from the Creative Commons, public domain, or with permission from publishing partners. Literably offers a PDF chart outlining grade-level correlations with a variety of other well-known reading level systems (Reading Recovery, Fountas & Pinnell, DRA, Basal, and Lexile).

As students progress, teachers can select an option for automatic leveling based on performance, or they can manually level each student. Reports include bar graphs with both current and past results, including word count per minute, accuracy to 100 percent, and error and self-correction rates. In addition to the original audio recordings, teachers can access a text copy of each reading, with students' omissions and additions (marked in red) and miscues, noted line by line in the margin.

For teachers looking to measure and track students' reading fluency, Literably can be a very useful tool. Side-by-side, full-week bar graphs give key information at a glance. Most notably, the site streamlines a previously time- and labor-intensive process, while also helping to manage reports throughout the year. At the time of review, students' reading performance is scored manually by the Literably staff; turnaround is reasonably prompt -- within about one day. While this wait is certainly brief, a carefully automated system for immediate feedback might be more beneficial for both teachers and students.

Beyond assessment and feedback, it would be great if Literably could do more in the way of actual reading instruction. And while the site has a lot of potential, some features could use updating. Texts covering all reading levels more broadly would add variety. Also, while the teacher dashboard is slick, students' experience in the site could be improved. Assessment readings/recordings are, in typical fashion, limited to one minute. However, where a live teacher might indulge a kid who's on a roll, the digital recorder abruptly cuts students off -- a softer cue with the option to continue would be nice. Reportedly coming soon are some expanded features, including feedback for students, the ability to add your own texts, and a personal scoring option. And, hopefully, automation will continue to improve the quality and speed of Literably's solid assessments.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Optional comprehension photos help engage students; otherwise the experience could use work. The site's elegant design helps students and teachers focus on the essentials: the reading/recording process and student data.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The spare interface hides quality, time-saving tools for reading-fluency assessment. Teachers can see omissions/additions, miscues, and words-per-minute. Expanded comprehension assessments are reportedly forthcoming.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

A conversion chart helps teachers sync students' results with a wide range of reading level equivalents (Basal, DRA, Lexile, and others). More support for interpreting results, as well as suggestions for action steps, would be helpful.

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Fay C. , Other
Hanover County Public Schools
Ashland, VA
Monitoring students’ reading fluency and accuracy made easy!
This resource is not a teaching tool per se. It is simply a tool to help effectively monitor students reading fluency and accuracy. Its richness lies in the fact that teachers gain back lots of time by passing on the scoring and analyzing to the Literably website. Teachers can still expect timely results (scores are returned within one day) and quickly adjust instruction to better meet students’ individual needs.
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