Software Program Boosts Sailors' Reading Skills 2 Grade Levels

ARLINGTON, Va. -- To increase the capabilities and potential of new recruits, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has invested in a cutting-edge software program that improves the reading comprehension of its Sailors two grade levels after only 40 hours of study.

The software-based program is a three-year, $1.5 million research and design effort funded by ONR, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' science and technology provider.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2009, about 32 million, or 14 percent, of American adults lacked basic literacy skills. In response to this shortfall, the US Navy began an experimental program to develop a reading program that ensures incoming recruits will be prepared for the complex thinking, content and communications skills needed to take advantage of Navy training, said Dr. Ray Perez, ONR group leader for technology-based training and education, who managed the initiative.

The reading comprehension program also aligns with the Navy's commitment to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the engine needed to maintain the Department of the Navy's warfighting dominance.

In a complementary effort, ONR partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide Navy recruits with advanced software to enhance their math reasoning skills. Arizona State University and UCLA are collaborating with Great Lakes Training Center, Ill., to conduct the project.

The research holds promise for the wider civilian population by providing a program that could potentially raise the reading comprehension level of the 32 million American adults who lack basic literacy skills. The U.S. Department of Education says that adults who are more literate tend to read to their children and discuss school topics, receive a higher income, are more tech-savvy, and more likely to vote, volunteer and access information about current local and national events.

About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

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