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Dr. Phillip Hickman is the founder of CEO of Plabook former Area Superintendent of Houston ISD, the 7th largest school district in the country. He’s been a Principal in East St. Louis, Area Superintendent in Kansas City and a Superintendent in Mississippi. His mission is to help all students in the USA read at grade level.
The reading crisis
Dr. Hickman believes we are in a reading crisis. The numbers are shocking. 75% of 4th graders in the United States read below grade level in 2019. 75% of crime in the United States is created by high school dropouts. 82% of prison inmates have a reading problem that has never been solved. The result is that the United States spends 335 Billion dollars on individuals with low literacy.
The big question is this: is this possible to solve? Hickman says yes. “The research says that 90% of children, if given the correct instruction, should learn how to read on grade level on time.” One of the challenges is that educators aren’t teaching reading properly. 65-70% of teachers are not teaching reading correctly, because 90% of them didn’t learn how to teach reading in college. They learned how to teach reading from colleagues. Adding to the challenge is that we have a national teacher quality shortage. We’re putting teachers that aren’t ready or don’t have enough training into the classroom.
Because of the numbers, Dr. Hickman says we will be in a tough spot very soon. “So if you have a teacher shortage, you don't have teachers going into universities, then it's a level of national security. We don't address that problem right now.” He’s exactly right.
AI Can Solve The Reading Problem
“85% of jobs in 2030 that will exist have not been invented yet.” Hickman explained on AI To Uplift Humanity. “Well, 2030 is 8 years from now. So 85% of jobs that will exist have not been invented yet.” We must get ahead of this problem, and even with a teacher shortage, AI can fill this gap.
“We have to be able to identify the lack of phonics sounds and phonemes that they have, and we have to be able to help them learn it. That's what my technology is able to do with accuracy with standardization. We have a 98% accuracy rate.” Plabook went through the Techstars program in 2021. “For the first time, we have technology that can hear the child all the way down to the phonemic level. So our speech engine can hear the utterance of speech, the unit of speech.”
The big benefit of using AI in this way, is that it introduces constant learning feedback loops, and presents educators with rich data on student reading progression. “We assess the child and we touch the child every second, every minute, every day, every hour. And it's digital. So any environment — we’re device agnostic.” Hickman said. “At home, at school, or the bus stop, whatever it is, we're collecting data. And we're giving recommendations back to the teacher and to the students.”
Dr. Philip Hickman Resources
Learn more about Plabook here.
Connect with Dr. Hickman on LinkedIn here.
Visit Dr. Philip Hickman’s website here