The Early Literacy Platform that Listens for Every Phoneme

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Marie Bahl

Marie has been working in technology and education over the last several years and recently joined Literably to revolutionize operational literacy assessment and intervention. She has previously taken on similar challenges in energy and healthcare. Marie began her career in the Silicon Valley of the late 90s, where she worked with many of today's icons including, Brian Croll, Scott McNealy and even the late Steve Jobs.

November 10, 2021

Since the 70s, every area of life has been transformed by data insight. Our mobile phones have put a world of knowledge in the palm of our hands. The Internet has changed the way we live and Betamax, VHS and DVD have all gone the way of the dinosaur. What hasn’t changed? The stagnant or in some cases declining, literacy achievement rates in early education.  

I’m a child of the late 70s.  For me, the reading debate on the value of phonics and phonemic awareness for example, as key components of any successful early literacy program, was settled in their favor, circa 1979.  Apparently not.  I was shocked to learn that since my youth, many children were taught to read without ever being introduced to critical brain training phonemes. In fact, many of today’s elementary teachers are being trained “on-the-job”, even on their own time, for previously established reading methods that have since gone out of style.  It seems education has tended to prefer one approach over another and assessment and curriculum providers have followed suit rather than lead.  

The answer isn’t one approach or another, it’s all methods, at the right time, for the right child.  Instead of embracing what we see as the solution; a comprehensive, online tool that incorporates understanding from all five of the well established pillars of literacy: Fluency, Phonics, Phonological Awareness, Comprehension and Vocabulary, assessment and curriculum vendors have created a wide variety of time-consuming tools that either, address only one pillar or; may address each pillar individually, but fail to allow learnings from each to influence the other. Leaving teachers buried in assessments that in many cases can take more than a WEEK of education time to administer and offer them little in the way of comprehensive remedial insight.  Worse, those misunderstood children fail, and round and round we go.

At Literably we want to break the cycle and increase literacy achievement rates.  We see the endless debates on methods that have long plagued early literacy as the impediment to success they so obviously are. We want to deliver a dependable and consistent “literacy backbone” for K-8 and a more well-rounded approach to remediation.  How? By collecting and analyzing reading and literacy skills. Literably, captures a live record with each assessment, then combines the best scientifically proven strategies to deliver an insightful online, remote-capable, end-to-end, diagnostic solution for early literacy.

We began by delivering a digital oral fluency assessment, the Literably Running Record (LRR). More than capturing words per minute, LRR surfaces accuracy rates, identifies miscues and even asks a few questions and offers a short retelling to gauge comprehension. Today, we are offering a free trial for our Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA).  Available in January 2022, Literably FSA gauges phonological awareness and phonics, flags impediments to progress and at-risk students, while it also offers immediate opportunities for remediation.  Together, these assessments make strong strides towards an individual and comprehensive reading evaluation of every child.  Our future products and enhancements will include support for Spanish, vocabulary and comprehension assessments and even screening for reading challenges like dyslexia.

At Literably we are academics, teachers, students, programmers, communicators, moms and dads. We believe in the transformative power of timely information, novel understanding and instant remediation.  We’ve made it our mission to offer the beleaguered champions of education a successful approach to identifying specific literacy impediments early and often.  We want to be the last literacy assessment and remediation partner educators will ever need and together with them, we hope to exponentially increase the number of fully literate children.



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