With the Fast ForWord® online reading intervention from Scientific Learning, the high-poverty district has improved its state test scores, letter grade, and District Performance Score
Director of Marketing
Scientific Learning Corporation
Oakland, Calif. — July 18, 2017 — In 2006, St. Mary Parish Public School System in rural Louisiana had several schools in Academic Assistance and test scores lagged behind the state average. Through a belief that brain research could inform instruction, the high-poverty district has moved from the bottom half to the top quartile in state rankings, increased its District Performance Score from 80.0 (on a scale of 0 to 200) in 2006 to 99.2 (on a scale of 0 to 150) in 2016, and raised its district category from 2 Stars (equivalent to a “D”) to a “B.”
What changed? During the 2006-07 school year, St. Mary Parish began using the Fast ForWord family of products, a neuroscience-based online reading intervention developed by Scientific Learning Corp. (OTC PINK:SCIL). The full St. Mary Parish story is now available in a newly published case study at http://www.scilearn.com/results/success-stories/case-studies/centerville-la-2017.
“One of the things we like about the Fast ForWord program is that it’s based on the science of how the brain learns,” said Superintendent Leonard J. Armato. “Our challenge wasn’t necessarily that our programs were ineffective. It was that they weren’t meeting students’ individual needs. To make the most of our programs, we needed to develop and strengthen the cognitive skills essential for learning and reading success.”
Unlike traditional reading interventions, the Fast ForWord products use the principles of neuroplasticity to prepare the brain to read by targeting working memory, attention, and processing speed in the context of language and reading exercises. It provides intense, personalized adaptive practice in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension, which develops automaticity. Further, using patented speech verification technology, the program “listens” to students as they read aloud, offering support with decoding and pronunciation at the moment they need it.
After using the Fast ForWord products district-wide in grades 1–12, St. Mary Parish has shifted its focus to target all K–2 students and struggling learners in grades 3–5. “Students who use Fast ForWord make lasting gains, which benefit them all through school. As a result, we discontinued Fast ForWord in our junior high and senior high schools because there was no longer a need for it there,” said Armato.
Since 2006, St. Mary Parish students have achieved steady gains on state tests and the district has made significant progress closing achievement gaps for student subgroups, including students from poverty who comprise nearly 80 percent of the student population. In 2016, St. Mary Parish came within 0.8 points of receiving the distinction of an “A” district, and it continued to outpace the State Performance Score. From 2015 to 2016, St Mary Parish’s District Performance Score rose from 91.1 to 99.2 points, an increase of 8.1 points. The state score, however, dropped from 88.8 points in 2015 to 83 points in 2016, a decline of 5.8 points.
“Over the years, we’ve changed many programs in our district. Fast ForWord has been the one constant for prevention and intervention because it works and our test scores are proof positive,” said Armato. “If you implement Fast ForWord with fidelity, you’ll get results.”
For more information, visit www.scientificlearning.com.