Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Amira Learning Forge Exclusive Partnership, Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Empower Educators

First intelligent reading assistant enables more accurate oral fluency assessment, provides voice-activated teacher support

AUSTIN, TEXAS, SXSW EDU – March 4, 2019 – Learning company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Amira Learning—creator of the first intelligent reading assistant that listens to, assesses and tutors learners—today announced an exclusive partnership serving U.S. schools designed to empower educators and accelerate reading mastery for K-3 learners. HMH will offer Amira’s state of the art speech recognition and advanced artificial intelligence software with a focus on streamlining oral fluency assessment for educators and tutoring for learners.

Assessing oral fluency is a critical component of literacy instruction, but the demands of tedious reporting and evaluating large classrooms of students with diverse needs in limited timeframes make it a challenging and time-consuming task. With exacting accuracy, Amira enables one-on-one oral fluency assessment for multiple students at one time. This in turn makes it possible for educators to dedicate their one-on-one time with students to coaching and building skills, rather than only assessing them.

“At HMH, we’re focused on leveraging the most advanced technology available to empower teachers to focus on critical student needs. And there is no need more foundational than literacy,” said Matthew Mugo Fields, General Manager, Supplemental and Intervention Solutions, HMH. “Technology can never replace the educator, but Amira gives teachers precious time back for reading instruction by providing deep insight into students’ literacy development and individual needs.”

Rooted in longstanding research licensed from Carnegie Mellon University, Amira employs AI to recognize children’s speech, conduct curriculum-based measurement, recommend resources and create an environment for productive practice that supports literacy growth. Rather than reading silently on their own, developmental readers can read aloud with Amira and experience real-time tutoring.

The software has been tested in different contexts and with different student populations, including classrooms in Chicago; Pittsburgh; Vancouver, Canada; Accra, Ghana; Bangalore, India, among others. There are more than 100 published research papers on Amira. In rigorous field trials conducted by leading researchers, students using Amira performed dramatically better than control groups of students doing silent sustained reading, and they performed on-par with certified human tutors on most skills. Effect sizes for Bilingual and English Language Learner students were even higher than for English-first students.

“Our partnership with HMH means that Amira will be offered and supported by America’s leading learning company,” said Mark Angel, CEO of Amira. “We are proud to be able to work with HMH to bring the next generation of early literacy software into classrooms.”

In addition to assisting with oral fluency assessment, Amira provides educators with a voice-activated virtual assistant that answers questions about student status and progress, provides actionable insight and handles administrative tasks like sending reports to parents. Teachers can obtain real-time progress reports on individual students or the whole class, or call up necessary materials quickly and easily. At its core, Amira delivers on the promise of leveraging technology to manage the rote and administrative parts of a teacher’s job, freeing them up to focus on the critical social-emotional needs of their students.

Amira has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious SXSW Launch competition and will present in front of a live audience and industry judges on Tuesday, March 5 during the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas. Presented by the Walton Family Foundation, Launch features the start-ups deemed the year’s most innovative new companies.

Schools and districts that are interested in learning more about Amira Learning can contact HMH at: https://www.hmhco.com/forms/contact-amira

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ: HMHC) is a global learning company committed to delivering integrated solutions that engage learners, empower educators and improve student outcomes. As a leading provider of K-12 core curriculum, supplemental solutions and professional learning services, HMH partners with educators and school districts to uncover solutions that unlock students' potential and extend teachers' capabilities. HMH serves more than 50 million students and 3 million educators in 150 countries, while its award-winning children's books, novels, non-fiction and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. For more information, visit www.hmhco.com

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About Amira Learning

Amira Learning is re-inventing learning to read with AI. Amira is the first interactive avatar able to assess, read along with and coach developmental readers. Amira utilizes technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University and is led by the former senior technical executives at Renaissance Learning, the leader in Reading Assessment and Practice software in K-12 classrooms. For a personalized demo of Amira, email info@amiralearning.com.

For more information about Amira Learning, please visit www.AmiraLearning.com.

Leah Riviere
Senior Communications Manager
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt