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North Carolina Struggling Readers Are ‘Reading to Learn’ With Access to Audiobooks

Categories: Education & Teaching, Learning Disabilities, Press Releases

Learning Ally, a leading K-12 ed-tech reading solution, provides students with dyslexia and print disabilities in NC public and charter schools with access to more than 80,000 quality ‘human-read’ audiobooks to strengthen their reading comprehension skills to ‘read to learn.’ 

February 6, 2018 - Princeton, NJ – Middle and high school students in the Mitchell County Public School District, NC are keeping better academic pace with their peers thanks to a partnership with Learning Ally, a leading K-12 ed-tech reading solution. The nonprofit enjoys a rich history of serving struggling readers by providing high quality, human-read audiobooks as well as a suite of teacher and student resources that easily integrate into the school’s instructional environment.

Kristie Autrey, Curriculum Director for Mitchell County School District credits her state for its leadership in providing accessible books for students who need them. Autrey has a Masters in Reading and is an expert in the Orton-Gillingham instructional method for teaching students with dyslexia. 

Mitchell County middle and high school students have some of the highest usage of Learning Ally in the state. Students can easily download audiobooks to their devices for English, history, biology and other academic subjects. 

NC Students in Class using audiobooks“Too many students fall behind and some drop out because they can’t keep pace with grade-level assignments,” says Autrey. “These kids are smart and have the desire and intellectual aptitude to be high achievers. By the time they reach upper elementary, they feel defeated. Learning Ally has helped us to reverse this course.” 

An eighth grader in her district, diagnosed with dyslexia in the fourth grade, is now able to read books on par with his intellectual ability. He attends upper-level classes, loves literature and shows pride in his achievements.

Research suggests that one in five students has dyslexia in the U.S. and may benefit from a multisensory reading experience in which text can be seen and heard simultaneously through highlighted words on a digital device, like a smartphone, tablet or computer. Autrey believes that human-read audiobooks take learning engagement to a higher level than computer voices.

In 2017, NC passed SB 149 House Bill requiring that the North Carolina State Board of Education ensure professional development opportunities are available for the identification of and intervention strategies for students with dyslexia or other specific learning disabilities and that information is made available electronically to provide information on the characteristics of students with dyslexia and educational methods.

During her district implementation, Autry met with educators in seven schools in her district to discuss Learning Ally. Teachers and librarians embraced the library quickly to find audiobooks for students based on grade level, intellectual ability or personal interests. Autrey mailed letters to parents describing the benefit of audiobooks, especially for students who did not have Internet access at home. She wrote, “Your children can download a book in school and read it at home.”

Autrey has also shared her observations with colleagues. “Today our students are reading more independently. They have improved their fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and critical thinking skills. They complete their assignments on time. Their morale has improved. These are all strong indicators of a beneficial education reading resource.”

For more information about Learning Ally, contact your district Exceptional Children’s Department or Madelyn Dabbs, Education Engagement Manager at mDabbs@LearningAlly.org - 609-520-8038.

To request a demo call 800-221-1098 or sign up for a demo at: www.learningally.org/educators/demos.

Other NC schools with high usage include Watauga County and Buncombe County. 

Learning Ally partners with state education departments in NJ, FL, NC, MA, IL, CA, VA, IN, and TX.