New artificial intelligence software from Lexplore helps identify reading difficulties in minutes

Showcased at Bett 2019 for the first time, Lexplore (stand B303) has brought 30 years of research into reading development to create a new tool that will help teachers accurately pinpoint children’s reading attainment. The artificial intelligence software in Lexplore highlights specific eye movement patterns in children which can suggest reading difficulties. This can help teachers identify children who may be struggling with reading in a matter of minutes.

Developed by two university researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, the software uses cutting edge eye-tracking technology to pick up on minor differences in the way children’s brains process text and identify difficulties or even the risk of Dyslexia in children as young as six years old.

Bernadette McLean, independent child literacy expert and former principal of the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre, said: “Current reading assessments are simply not good enough. When we look at a low standard test score in isolation, it tells us that a child can’t read. It doesn’t tell us why that child can’t read. Lexplore gives us much more than a simple score or percentile, making it easier for teachers to uncover the potential reasons why a child cannot read.”

The Lexplore assessment is as simple as it is effective. It reduces testing time for pupils and provides teachers with the in-depth information they need in a non-test like environment.

Using Lexplore, a pupil sits an enjoyable screening test where they read two stories from a computer screen and answer some comprehension questions. Stephen Park, managing director of Lexplore, explains: “The eye-tracking technology automatically monitors the way the child’s eyes move as they progress through the test. By registering how long the eyes rest on one word, and how quickly they move forwards or backwards across a series of words, it can identify any issues. Teachers who have piloted Lexplore said that it’s what they have been waiting for and it offers teachers a startling insight into the cognitive processes a child goes through whilst reading.”

Using circles to reflect fixation time, when a child’s eye stays on a word for a longer period and lines to represent saccadic movement, when a child can read the text freely, Lexplore is able to provide teachers with a visual representation of the complicated processes behind each child’s ability to read in isolation of their ability to write. Unlike many other assessments, these results provide a true picture of a child’s current reading skills.

“We are really impressed with this technology and how it has helped us identify children with reading difficulties. It is quick, straightforward and easy to manage within the day-to-day routine of the school,” says Jayne Mullane, headteacher, Mersey Vale Primary School, where the tool has been successfully piloted.

“The tests showed that one of our KS2 girls was finding reading difficult, but this was something we hadn’t spotted before,” says Jayne. “She had developed effective coping strategies to manage those difficulties, so we hadn’t realised that she needed support.”

There is no writing involved for children and no impact on teachers’ workloads as there is no marking needed. Results are analysed and delivered via the Lexplore portal, saving countless hours of administration time.

Lexplore is a finalist in the innovation category at the BETT Awards 2019. Teachers, senior leaders and educationalists are invited to join them on their stand at Bett (B303) to try out their innovative eye-tracking technology. They will also be running a series of competitions throughout the course of Bett and teachers and school leaders can find out more at