Texthelp®, a leading education technology company focused on helping learners of all ages and abilities improve their reading, writing, and math skills, today announced the launch of WriQ®, a cloud-based writing assessment and achievement tool. Using a powerful and proprietary computer algorithm, WriQ automates and standardizes the assessment of student writing against national norms, evaluating each student’s writing across a number of criteria. As a result, teachers are able to quickly assess writing proficiency and provide students with specific and personalized feedback.

In conjunction with the launch of WriQ, Texthelp also released a new report, “Lockdown and beyond: Learning in a changing landscape,” developed with ImpactED. It highlights a number of key challenges for U.S. educators in light of the pandemic, including the scale of disruption; the rapid move to online teaching; the need for teacher support; mass learning loss; and a decrease in student motivation.

The report analyzed U.S. education research, finding that approximately 29 percent of students stated that they were “not engaged” before the COVID-19 lockdown. At the beginning of May 2020, 80 percent of teachers said that student motivation was lower than it had been pre-lockdown. Notably, the report also highlighted the potential for a widening of existing achievement gaps of up to 15-20 percent. It concludes that research-based tools that encourage engagement through real-time feedback and gamification, as well as provide student autonomy, will likely have the best impact on both student outcomes and teacher workloads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has called attention to a number of new and long-standing challenges around student motivation and learning loss, as well as the demanding workloads facing our teachers each and every day,” said Martin McKay, Founder and CEO of Texthelp. “WriQ, has been designed with those needs in mind. Not only does it standardize writing assessment in order to give teachers more time to focus on student instruction and support, but it is also designed to motivate and engage students in writing.”

To encourage engagement and improvement among students, WriQ gives students positive nudge notifications and achievement badges each time they write more. It provides them with their own dashboard of real-time feedback. Students are empowered to take actionable steps to refine their writing without waiting for direct intervention from their teacher and are able to track their writing progress daily, weekly, and monthly.

For teachers, WriQ evaluates student writing across a number of criteria with the goal of increasing proficiency. It enables teachers to focus on planning, personalized instruction, support, and encouragement, rather than grading. WriQ can be used across grade levels, from fourth grade to graduate programs, and across core subjects.

At the very heart of the product is the WriQ Score, the first and only standard for writing assessment. This has been developed using data from over 85,000 teacher-graded documents and can be used to show how students are performing against their peers across the U.S.

“Writing is a subject where national norms have been missing,” adds McKay. “Students write to express their understanding in almost every class subject. It is important that we help educators standardize the assessment of writing, and provide immediate, actionable and comparative feedback. This will help students persist with writing and improve.”

Following its BETA release in 2019, WriQ is available as a free extension through Google Docs or an add-in for Microsoft Word to teachers and students, and it can be upgraded by schools and districts to access premium features, such as a full assessment dashboard, and additional insights, such as comparisons against national norms.

For more information on WriQ, please visit https://text.help/WriQ-US.

To download the full report, “Lockdown and beyond: Learning in a changing landscape,” visit https://text.help/lockdown-report.

About Texthelp
Texthelp® is a leading education technology company focused on helping students and lifelong learners of all abilities improve their reading, writing, and math skills. The Company offers an innovative suite of products for use in schools and the workplace, including Read&WriteEquatIO®, WriQ®, Fluency Tutor®, Browsealoud®, SpeechStream®, and Snapverter®. Texthelp products serve over 30 million users worldwide and are used in more than 2,800 K-12 schools, nearly 550 colleges and universities, and 220 corporations/enterprises in North America. To learn more about Texthelp’s suite of products, visit www.texthelp.com.

About ImpactEd
ImpactEd is a non-profit organization that exists to improve student outcomes by addressing the evaluation deficit in education. We work in partnership with school leaders and education organizations to support high-quality monitoring and evaluation that informs decisions about what will work most effectively to support young people.

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