A game-based early literacy screener that predicts potential for dyslexia in pre-readers

App of the Week

EarlyBird transforms students’ lives through the early detection of reading difficulties, including dyslexia. Developed at Boston Children’s Hospital in partnership with faculty at the Florida Center for Reading Research, EarlyBird brings together all the relevant predictors of reading in one easy-to-administer assessment. The cloud-based EarlyBird platform includes a game-based app that provides comprehensive, validated student testing, and a dashboard that points teachers to customized action plans and evidence-based resources for individuals or groups of students. With EarlyBird, educators can identify children at risk for reading difficulties in the window when intervention is most effective — before they formally learn to read.



The EarlyBird game-based app for students is available for iPad tablets and Chromebooks. The interactive teacher dashboard is accessible via the web.


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Problem solved:

Sixty-five percent of U.S. fourth graders are not reading at a proficient level, and there has been no change in these results for more than 25 years. Unfortunately, traditional literacy assessments and interventions often come too late. Dyslexia, which affects approximately 5-15% of children, is generally diagnosed in grades 2-3 after repeated failure to learn to read — and after the most effective intervention window. Instead of waiting for a child to fail before taking action, educators need a proactive, preventive way to identify students at risk so they can intervene earlier and help them before they start struggling with reading.

EarlyBird integrates key literacy milestones shown to be most predictive of later reading success with powerful analytics to identify where children are struggling on their learning pathway. With EarlyBird, educators can now identify students at risk for reading difficulties even before they formally learn to read. This is critical because the earlier intervention is delivered, the greater impact it has. In addition to recommending the tools best suited to address a student’s particular challenge, EarlyBird is self-administered and auto-scored, helping teachers make the most of precious time.

Another benefit for schools, particularly in states with laws that mandate dyslexia screening, is that EarlyBird provides the tools to quickly and accurately screen students for dyslexia as early as kindergarten — and it doesn’t require that the child can read.

Early detection transforms lives. With EarlyBird, educators can confidently address reading difficulties when they can be most successfully overcome.



Grade/age range:




EarlyBird can be used as a universal screener for:

  • Dyslexia
  • Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
  • Response to Intervention (RTI)

The game-based assessment can be administered at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year — or any time — to identify struggling readers who might otherwise fall through the cracks. The interactive dashboard creates a customized literacy profile for each student, and leads teachers to vetted, evidence-based resources and recommendations so they can take proactive steps to help get students on track. EarlyBird can also be used to supplement regular curriculum and progress monitoring tools, providing an additional layer of understanding about what students can and cannot do.



Early literacy/reading


Pricing model:

A per-student fee and an associated onboarding/professional development fee


Additional services needed:

The EarlyBird package includes professional development webinars to train teachers how to administer the assessment and act on the data after the screener is administered.


What makes Earlybird unique?

Research proves it. The best time to identify reading difficulties is early. Interventions made in fourth grade take four times longer than interventions in kindergarten. EarlyBird is a breakthrough assessment tool that empowers schools and teachers to replace the old “wait to fail” paradigm with a proactive, preventive way to identify and support students.


What makes EarlyBird unique?

  • EarlyBird helps educators identify children at risk for reading difficulties in the window when intervention is most effective — even before they formally learn to read.
  • It eliminates the need to administer multiple assessments by providing 13 different subtests across critical foundational skill areas scientifically proven to be predictive of reading ability. These areas include phonological awareness, sound symbol correspondence, rapid automatized naming (RAN), and oral language comprehension.
  • It can be used by children as young as four years old, and testing can be conducted individually or in small groups with oversight from an adult. 

With just minutes of tablet game play, EarlyBird can predict the potential for dyslexia or other reading difficulties in pre-readers, and support teachers with easy-to-understand data and targeted resources.




Students self-administer the EarlyBird screener using a tablet and headset. The child plays independently, joining their new friend, Pip, for a delightful journey through the city, meeting animal friends along the way. The game assesses students while they play, with auto-scoring features that save teachers time.


Here’s what users are saying:

“As soon as we began using EarlyBird, we realized it had a lot of power in terms of the experience it offers students and the actionable data it provides to classroom teachers. This data not only helps teachers respond to the needs of the students in front of them, it also helps them think about how they might change their practices or scope and sequence in years to come.”

— Angela Hardy, director of curriculum and instruction for Maine School Administrative District 11


“EarlyBird is targeted to those areas that are the number one predictors of reading success. Other universal screeners address these areas to an extent, but none do it as thoroughly as EarlyBird. EarlyBird is also one of the most developmentally appropriate in terms of the way it’s presented to students. Even students who struggle with attention are highly engaged.”

— Karen Collin, district instructional coach for literacy in Maine School Administrative District 11


“EarlyBird provides teachers with an efficient, self-administered screening tool and expert-vetted intervention resources to support a preventive approach. It assesses the right things, it’s practical to implement, it provides easy-to-understand data and next steps, and it fosters conversation. When you put those things together, you can really move forward and get to the next level. We’ve searched for an effective and efficient early literacy screener and we’ve found our answer.”

— Susan Schatz, Ph.D., a literacy coach St. Michael’s School (Calif.)


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