Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT READING SKILLS
What are Reading Skills evaluations?
To be a skilled reader one must master a hierarchy of individual skills successfully and failure to master any single skill will cause the reading process to break down. For example if a student cannot recognize letters that student will not be able to recognize words and word combinations. All these skills need to be performed effortlessly and automatically so that the person can focus on the meaning of text. Lack of automaticity and skill will compromise comprehension. Reading Skill evaluations lead the student through testing of skills that comprise the reading hierarchy, starting with very simple skills and moving progressively to more complex skills, The purpose is to identify where in this hierarchy automaticity breaks down. Skill Builder activities should be directed at this identified weakness. Typically there are 8 skills tested and the automaticity results for each are compared to typical results for a student of the same age. By looking at the pattern of results for all the skill tasks, doing well on some and poorly on others, there can be a strong suggestion of a variety of different reading problems. The student with a reading disability [dyslexia] will have a very different pattern of performance than the garden variety poor reader or attention deficit reader.
How do the Reading Success Lab Products improve reading skills?
Our Skill Builder products are designed to develop fluent (fast and accurate) reading skills. Our skill builders focus on letter recognition, letter sounds, syllable sounds, word identification and spelling. Most of our Skill Builders are focused on word identification as this is the area that most often inhibits skilled reading. The word identification exercises produce fast and accurate word identification and encourage the student to sight recognize words which is the goal of any reading program. The system has word materials ranging from rhyme sets through subject matter materials like physics, history, chemistry and even SAT prep. With all exercises the student may get the definition of any word with a simple click. Any exercise can be turned into a spelling exercise where the software speaks words and the student inputs the spelling with the keyboard. The system allows users to define their own word sets to use with the Skill Builder system.
How can I make sure my student gets an accurate Evaluation?
Instruct students to respond as quickly and accurately as they can. Remind them periodically if you notice them delaying response.
What are the minimum requirements for my computer to be able to run your software?
An Internet connection and a computer with a recent version of a browser— Chrome, IE, Edge, Firefox etc.
Can I use your software on more than one computer?
Yes, you can sign in to your account from any computer that has access to the web. You simply log into our website.
I am a teacher and need to run over a school network. Can I do this?
Yes, but here is no need to run across a network because you are simply connecting to a website in your browser.
What if I am having trouble resetting my Password?
If you are having trouble resetting your password please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I reset my Password?
Please follow the steps on the login box. Click the link in the login box labeled “Lost Password?” and follow the directions.
How can I change my Main Account holder?
From your Administration page you can go into “Account” and then “Account Info” and here you can change the Main Contact Info.
How do I manage student users?
From your Administration page you can go to “My Student Users” and you have complete control of your student accounts. Students do not have their own account. A single account consists of one or more administrators with many student users. All administrators and students share the items purchased for an account. Before a student can use an account an administrator must log in to the website. The admin can then create new student users for the account or select a student to enter the Lab.
How do I cancel my subscription?
From your Administration page you can go into “Account” > “My Purchases” and cancel your subscription.
Will your evaluations tell me something that other testing did not?
Yes! Our evaluations measure the degree of automaticity on the different skills that are required for proficient reading. Our evaluations pinpoint where it is in the process of reading that automaticity is breaking down. Skill Building activities can then be focused at the identified weak point. By looking at the pattern of proficiency across all of the tasks in an evaluations a number of reading problems can be identified.
Would you please describe the evaluation process?
An evaluation consists of 3, 5 or 8 tasks depending on which evaluation is performed, with each task focusing on a single reading skill. These tasks start with simple skills and range up through comprehension on most evaluations. All of the tasks work essentially the same way. An item is presented on the screen [e.g. word identification] or through the speakers [e.g. listening comprehension]. The student makes his/her response out loud or by clicking onscreen buttons and the computer measures how long it took the student to respond. A scorer flags the response as correct or not by clicking the different mouse buttons. The process repeats until all items in a task have been presented, responded to and scored. Some tasks are organized by difficulty. For example, the Word Naming Task is organized with words consisting of 3 letters, followed by 4 letters, and then 5 & 6 letters. If any task becomes too difficult for a student, the task can be terminated and you can continue to the next task.
How long does it take to run an evaluations?
The pre-reading evaluation should take about 30 minutes. The other evaluations will take between 1 and 2 hours depending on the student and how many breaks are taken.
Can I break up an evaluation or does it have to be done in a single sitting?
An evaluation consists of 3, 5 or 8 tasks. The evaluation may be suspended at the end of any task and resumed at a later time or date. To continue an evaluation where it was left off, login the student and then select the suspended evaluation for the student.
How young can a child be to be tested with your system?
We have testing appropriate for children of kindergarten age and up.
If I know my child has a problem reading do I need to test or should I simply start with Skill Building activities?
Knowing the source of a problem often makes it easier to come up with a strategy to deal with the problem. It would be important to test your child if you are trying to get services for your child at a school. You can use the report from the evaluation to support your request for services. However, it may be appropriate to skip the evaluation and go straight to Skill Builder. Our Skill Builder exercises focus on sight recognition and work effectively with most common reading problems.
Why does there need to be someone present to score responses?
There does need to be someone present to score any task that requires a SPACEBAR press response. The only tasks that do not require a SPACEBAR press are the comprehension tasks. The computer cannot reliably detect what was said. Speech recognition software has not developed to the point where the little subtleties in speech that make an answer incorrect can be detected. A “scorer” must be present to indicate the correctness of responses. This person does not need to be a trained professional. The correct response can be heard with a mouse click. This allows peers, paraprofessionals, and others to score a response by comparing the response of an examinee with the correct response generated by clicking the mouse.
How does the Evaluation measure both speed and accuracy of responses?
Our Evaluation software measures both the time it takes to respond and the accuracy of the response for each task item in an evaluation. In all of the tasks the computer starts a stopwatch with the presentation of an item and stops the stopwatch when the person responds, measuring the response time. For spoken responses, the system uses a SPACEBAR press as the student speaks as the event that stops the timing. After a student has made a spoken response followed by SPACEBAR press, a scoring control becomes active. Use the cursor to click the appropriate score button. Take your time scoring as the response time has already been measured when you score.
After I perform the testing how do I obtain the results and how do I use the results?
Upon completing an evaluation, the software generates a detailed report based on the student’s performance on the evaluation tasks, both in accuracy and speed, and on a set of questionnaire item pertaining to background information for the student. This report is 8 to 10 pages in length and is completely customized for the student based on the particulars of the testing results and questionnaire information. This report is printable and even editable and can be regenerated at any later time. This report is a very good starting point if you are trying to get services for your child at a school.
What information is included in your Evaluation Report?
The main sections of the report are:
- Evaluation Information
- Interpretation of Background information
- Cognitive Testing Results
- Overall Interpretation
- Intervention Plan
- Next Steps
Can I use the evaluations to measure a child’s progress or to measure the effectiveness of a Skill Builder strategy?
This is an excellent use of the Evaluation System. We recommend initially performing a Full Evaluation that usually consists of 8 tasks. Following that we recommend performing a Progress Evaluation which consists of the core tasks, shown below, at regular intervals.
- Word Naming
- Nonsense Word Naming
- Word Meaning
- Sentence Understanding
What is grade level percentile and how is it used in your testing?
Grade level percentile is a measure of how a particular score compares to the scores of other children in the same grade on the same test. The percentile scores range from 1 [lowest] to 99 highest and a score that is 50th percentile is exactly average. For example a score in the 59th percentile would mean that the score is as good as or better than 59% of the scores for other children in the same grade. The results of our testing are typically reported as percentile scores.
Why should I use a mouse when a child is performing an Evaluation or Assessment?
A student makes his/her response frequently by speaking out loud and pressing the SPACEBAR at the same time. If the scorer has a mouse then scoring can be performed without interfering with the keyboard area.
I do not need a microphone for the Evaluations and Assessments is that correct?
No microphone is used with these.
How young can a child be to benefit from your Skill Builder exercises?
We have Skill Builder exercises starting with the alphabet so a 4 year old could benefit from our exercises. The next more difficult exercise is our Word Families exercise. This consists of words with common endings [rhyme] such as cat, mat, bat or car, far, jar. After that the word exercises are organized by grade level difficulty starting with 1st grade. We also have math fact Skill Builder exercises.
How much time will a practice session take and how often should a person practice with your Skill Builder sets?
A practice session should take between 10 and 20 minutes. We recommend 1 practice session per day at least 4 times a week. These exercises are meant to be short and focused.
I have spent large sums of money trying to solve my child’s reading problem without success. Why should I expect your Skill Builders to help when all of the others have failed?
The reason so many approaches fail is that they stick with the same basic instructional method and merely intensify instruction with it. That instructional method most frequently is phonics. Although most children respond well to phonics instruction, some student simply do not. With such a child, he/she is being instructed at their weakness instead of strength. If a child has had intensive phonics instruction without the desired progress in reading skill it is time to try a different approach. Our Skill Builder Exercises are not phonics-based and emphasize sight recognition through repeated practice. Many children that have struggled in learning to read make very good reading progress using our Skill Builder Exercises.
I do not need a microphone for the Skill Builder Exercises; is that correct?
Indeed NO microphone is used with the Skill Builder Exercises. No microphone is used for either testing or skill building.
How long should it take for us to see progress with your Skill Builders?
You should see progress with a child in 1 to 2 weeks. The software will display progress after each practice session.
My child has a lot of trouble with spelling. Will these exercises help my child’s spelling?
The repeated practice a person gets with the Skill Builder Exercises indeed improves spelling because the child is developing a mental representation for the words. You can also turn an exercise into a spelling exercise by having the software “speak” the words out loud and the child spells the words using the keyboard. With our Designer Module you can create custom lists such as spelling lists.
Do you have Skill Builder activities for math?
We do have Skill Builder Interventions for math facts. These work just like the word activities except the child speaks the answer to presented math facts. There are two math fact Skill Builder Exercises, one for Addition and Subtraction and the other one for Multiplication and Division.
How many words are there in an Skill Builder exercise?
Typically each Skill Builder exercise consists of 3 sets of words, each set consisting of 160 words for a total of 480 words. The 3 sets are of equal difficulty. The student starts with the first set of 160 and practices with them until it is mastered and then proceeds to the second and then third sets. Mastered is determined by a set of specific accuracy and speed criteria being met and the software will inform you when a set has been mastered.
How long should it take for my child to master a Skill Builder exercise?
The time needed depends on the child and how conscientious you are in having your child practice at the recommended intensity [once a day at least 4 times per week]. A general range would be from 2 to 8 weeks.
My child reads OK; would your Skill Builders be appropriate?
Yes. Most children make very good reading progress using our Skill Builder Exercises and adding words to a child’s sight vocabulary is always a positive. You can customize the materials presented using our Designer Module to create spelling or vocabulary lists or to master subject matter words and terms even before a class is taken.
How do I select the appropriate starting level for your Skill Builders?
The most important thing in selecting a starting point is to not start at too difficult a level. It is much better to start off too easy than too hard. It is a much better to say to a child that these materials are too easy and we will skip ahead than the reverse which may provoke an attitude. The general rule of thumb is 1 to 2 grades below the child’s actual grade depending on how much the child is struggling. We want the child to have a positive experience from the start. If you perform an evaluation of reading skill using our Evaluation Module, you will find a recommended starting point in the report that is generated.
Will my child be motivated to work with your Skill Builders?
Our Skill Builders are particularly effective with children who have struggled in learning to read and have not experienced many successes in this regard. The fact that a child sees his/her improvement, and the software clearly shows the improvement, is probably the best motivational factor for a child who has experienced repeated difficulties. In addition, we do recommend a reward system for your child.
Can I customize the materials in the Skill Builders?
Yes! Being able to create custom sets of materials with our Designer Module adds great flexibility to our Skill Builder system. Using our Designer software you can create materials that run just like our Skill Builder Exercises but with your own material.
Is it possible to utilize Skill Builder Exercises as vocabulary exercises?
Yes. You would change the way a student responds to the individual items in the exercise. Rather than speaking the word out loud, the student would respond with something that indicates the meaning of the words. For example, if the item were “color” the student might respond by saying “red”. Also the student can get the definition of a word by dvl-clicking dbl-clicking on a word during the “Preview” and “Review” phases.
Can you suggest a way to reward my child for work with your Skill Builder Exercises?
We recommend a reward system to encourage practice with the Skill Builder Exercises. There is a right way and a wrong way to provide rewards for practicing academic tasks. The wrong way is to reward a child for engaging in a practice activity, for simply going through the motions in the practice activity. The right way to reward a child is to make the reward contingent on improved performance. That is, the reward is provided if the child’s performance on a given occasion is better than it was on a previous occasion. The Skill Builder software clearly shows performance progress.
Can my child work alone with these exercises or does someone else need to be present?
Our system is set up so that when a student makes a response and simultaneously presses the space bar to record the time taken to make the response, the student automatically hears the correct response. If students are working alone they then score the response they made as correct or incorrect by comparing their response with the correct response. The issue with students working alone is whether they score their response accurately. If they cheat, much of the benefits of practicing can be negated. Another factor of working with another person is that students are more motivated to practice when they can show off newly developing skills.
What are some of the situations where creating customized material might be of use?
The Designer Module provides tremendous flexibility to Skill Builder tools. Any kind of activity that is used with the standard system can be used with your own materials. You can create custom spelling or vocabulary list for use with the Skill Builder Module. As an example, many schools have lists of words for each grade that students should have mastered by the end of the school year. It is a simple matter to make Skill Builder exercises out of those lists.
Can I create foreign language materials with the Designer Module?
Creating foreign language materials for Skill Builders is an excellent use of the Designer Module. When creating materials you can select whatever font you wish to use including foreign language fonts.
Can I make vocabulary exercises with the Designer Module?
It is easy to create vocabulary exercises for use as Skill Builders. When the student practices with the vocabulary items the student should speak something that indicates understanding of the meaning of the word. For example if the word is ‘furniture’ the student might say “table”. The student can get the definition of a word by dbl-click on a word during the “Preview” and “Review” phases.
Your Skill Builder exercises allow you to hear the proper response to each item. Will the ones I create have this capability?
Yes. When you create a custom Skill Builder exercise the system will use Text to Speech [TTS] technology to add the pronunciation to its sound library.