In March, robot support ended for instructors in Tullahoma’s four elementary schools as the contract between Tullahoma City Schools (TCS) and Lindamood-Bell came to an end.
Last August, TCS teamed up with Lindamood-Bell representatives to provide an innovative way to educate students and further reading skills with the help of consultants and four iPad robots over the course of nine months.
The robots, provided by Double Robotics, are mobile devices with iPads attached, enabling a Lindamood-Bell instructor to observe instruction remotely over a streaming video session, interacting with staff and students in real time.
The program was funded by a discretionary grant totaling $99,750, and students who struggled with reading and language arts were targeted to receive supplemental education with Lindamood-Bell through March.
Skills like word recognition, reading comprehension and spelling were tested and measured by teachers.
During the TCS board meeting on June 20, Melissa Garner, a representative of Lindamood-Bell, delivered an update on the test results of the targeted students after their experiences with the robots.
“We have some great results to share with you. Is the story always a happy ending? Not necessarily. Sometimes it’s a work in progress,” said Garner.
“Anything below the 25th percentile is considered a weakness. Anything from the 25th percentile to technically the 75th is considered normal range. Fiftieth percentile is good, solid. Anything beyond 75th percentile is considered a really big strength,” she said.
According to Garner, each tested category saw significant improvement, and while some percentages do not indicate true strengths, they still exhibit far fewer weaknesses.
Symbol Imagery, which, according to Lindamood-Bell founder Nancy Bell, allows for rapid processing and quick self-correction, improved from 10th to the 25th percentile.
Word recognition improved from 14th to the 21st percentile; spelling from the 12th to 21st percentile; accuracy from 3rd to the 19th percentile; fluency from 2nd to the 13th percentile; and composition from the 8th to the 30th percentile.
Overall, time spent with the iPad robots improved many aspects of literacy needs in the TCS, according to Garner.
“I’m reminded and I’m humbled by how hard students work day in and day out in their learning centers and I’m reminded just of how important the work is. Also, how challenging it can be working with students that are up against these kinds of literacy challenges. I applaud your staff, and we are thrilled to be working with them for sure,” she said.
Kinley Hughes can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.