Apr 7, 2011 by Melissa Agocs
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Every spring, the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, abbreviated CRCT, are administered to students in Georgia.  The CRCT is designed to measure how well students acquire the skills and knowledge described in the Georgia Performance Standards. Students are tested in Reading, English Language Arts and Mathematics.  It is given every spring to all students in grades 1-8 and the students included in this study were first through eighth graders.

Students who used the Fast ForWord products generally started with the Fast ForWord Language or Fast ForWord Literacy products. During the 2007 – 2008 school year, some students started on the Fast ForWord Reading products, progressing as far as the Fast ForWord Reading Level 3 product.  On average, students used the products for 60 – 70 days during a 6 month period.

The first wave of Fast ForWord participants at Clarke County started using the products between the 2006 and 2007 tests and made statistically significant improvements on the spring 2007 CRCT with continued improvements in 2008.  Students in the second wave started using the products between the 2007 and 2008 tests and made statistically significant improvements on the spring 2008 CRCT.  The third group served as the comparison group and did not use the products until after the 2008 test. The students who used the Fast ForWord products made more improvements in their reading achievement, crossing the proficiency threshold, compared to the students who did not use the products. In fact, 40% of the participants who were not proficient in 2006 reached proficiency in 2007 compared to 27% of the non-proficient students who did not use products.

In addition to longitudinal results, data were also analyzed for certain demographic groups, including students who were receiving Special Education services and students with Limited English Proficiency. Both groups achieved statistically significant improvements on the CRCT Reading Test after Fast ForWord participation. Students who were receiving Special Education services and who used Fast ForWord products made significant gains in their reading scores, but more importantly, these gains were significantly greater than the gains made by the comparison group.  Similarly, students with limited English proficiency who used Fast ForWord products also made significant gains in their reading scores that were significantly greater than the gains made by the comparison group.