New research shows Learning Tools improved reading comprehension in diverse student group


Today we’re sharing the results of a new multi-grade 3rd party research study, conducted in Washington State, that shows the positive impact Microsoft Learning Tools can have in the classroom.  We’re also sharing some news below on Learning Tools coming to Word for iPad and the Microsoft Edge Browser.

The Microsoft Learning Tools set is natively built into the Office 365 and Microsoft Edge applications, and help improve reading, writing and comprehension. The immersive reader capability in Learning Tools, for example, gives users the ability to have content read aloud to them, and lets them adjust settings to break the words into syllables, adjust text size or background colors.


Learning Tools study shows reading comprehension improved


Today we are publishing a research study of students across many grade levels in Bellevue, WA. The new study, from RTI International‘s Center for Evaluation & Study of Educational Equity, shows evidence that learners’ use of Microsoft Learning Tools both improves reading comprehension by 10 percentile points on a nationally normed assessment, and that it ‘levels the playing field’ of learning for struggling readers.

“Learning Tools is an empowering tool. Sometimes students’ performance doesn’t match their ability. It evens the playing field for kids who are struggling readers. It helps them to feel like they have a grasp on their education, on their learning. It allows them to feel more like independent learners, not depending on the teacher, not depending on peers.”

– 4th grade teacher, Bellevue School District

The capabilitities of Learning Tools give personal choice and control to learners, which impacts their engagement. Furthermore, teachers reported that learners benefited in a number of unexpected ways from using Learning Tools. Educators reported:

  • Improved writing stemming from students being able hear their own writing read aloud back to them, helping them identify errors.
  • Improved learning equity for struggling readers, by enabling access to learning materials in other content areas like math, science and social studies.


Teachers found Learning Tools supports cognitive processes that improve learning. Learners chose the reading voice, pace, background color and font, the spacing of words, and how parts of grammar are identified. Teachers reported these capabilities gave learners from all grade levels a sense of greater control and responsibility for their learning. Find out more in the full report.

“Nearly all of the study teachers mentioned how Learning Tools enabled their readers, regardless of skill level, to access content aimed at a higher reading level. In this case, “access” means comprehension of content that had previously been unavailable.”

The study analyzed change in reading comprehension for 4th grade students using Learning Tools, compared to a historical cohort of 4th graders from the same school, who did not get Learning Tools in their reading curriculum. The analysis indicated that the students who used Learning Tools had significantly more growth in reading comprehension compared to the historical cohort, after controlling for variables known to be related to reading comprehension.

In addition to publishing today’s heartening research results, we’re starting a new series on how Learning Tools and accessible technology have helped people transform their lives – you can catch up on their stories here:

Teachers, students, and parents continue to tell us about their experiences with Microsoft’s Learning Tools. Their feedback and suggestions are important to the Learning Tools team and have guided us on the way to improvements and greater availability, including the updates we’d like to share today:


Learning Tools for Word on iPad


In November, Word on iPad will add support for many Immersive Reader capabilities, including Read Aloud functionality. The Read Aloud capability, which can read words aloud while highlighting them in tandem, is now available in all views via the command in the Review tab, or from the Learning Tools tab.

This capability leverages Word’s new Mobile View, now available on iPad, to provide a canvas that supports changing page color, adjusting the line length, and a feature called Text Spacing, which increases the spacing between characters, words and lines. Word also provides broader support for individuals with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, or emerging readers through Learning Tools.


Language Support


Word Ipad Read Aloud is supported for all languages that are supported on the installed iOS version. The most recent version of iOS supports the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.

Microsoft Edge in the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update


With the just-released Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update, Microsoft Edge adds Read Aloud with word and line highlighting for focused reading.  The new Read Aloud capability works with any web page, as well as all PDF files.  To use Read Aloud, right click on any page, or open the “…” menu in the upper right of the Edge Browser, and choose Read Aloud.

You can also set the reading speed and preferred voice for reading aloud. Microsoft Edge supports reading aloud for 49 different languages as of the Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update.

We hope you enjoy these new improvements coming to Microsoft Learning Tools, and please don’t hesitate to send us feedback at To learn more about Microsoft’s offerings in education, visit today.

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