Apr 12, 2011 by Carrie Gajowski, MA

Reading level

A few months ago, we heard from Cory Armes, an Education Consultant at Scientific Learning, and she told her story about her experience with the Scientific Learning productsand how that led her to become part of the Scientific Learning team.  Today we hear from Karen Forester, a Senior Implementation Manager in the South, about the impact of the Fast ForWord products on the life on one 13-year-old from Florida:

“Several years ago, while visiting a Fast ForWord lab at a middle school in Florida, I was working with the reading coach and teacher on data interpretation methods and real time results from the work their students had been doing in the exercises.  We were looking specifically at reading level gains and national percentile scores when I noticed one student had a four year, two month gain in only 60 days.  I pointed this out and the reading coach audibly gasped, then whispered, 'Can we look closer at his scores?' 

As we reviewed the detail report, we saw the remarkable progress this particular 13-year-old had made.  The reading coach started to say something, but her voice broke and she looked quickly away.  After a few moments, she told me how worried she had been about this student and that nothing she or his teachers had tried ever seemed to make a difference.  'Last year, he started acting out and his bad behavior landed him in the principal’s office many times; I thought we were losing him.'  Abruptly, she called the student’s name and asked him to come up to her desk.  He approached with great dread and a downcast look, but as soon as he reached her, she said, 'I am so proud of you, just look at what you’ve accomplished!' 

He looked startled and didn’t seem to understand what she just said.  When she saw his quizzical gaze, she pointed to the computer and asked him to see for himself what she meant.  He leaned in to peer at the screen and she began explaining his graphs, charts and scores.  She showed him how much his reading level had improved since he began working on Fast ForWord and praised his determination for sticking with the work and not giving up.  I asked him if he had noticed any difference.  Shyly, he said, 'Well, I like to read now and I didn’t before plusI haven’t got in trouble this year.'

With tears in her eyes, his teacher couldn’t resist placing her arm around his shoulders and announcing his success to the whole class.  I could tell the student was unaccustomed to such academic praise, but it didn’t take him long to flash a brilliant smile and I could see his whole body relax into the joy of the moment.  Both teacher and student were thrilled.

At the time, I remember thinking how that brief recognition could very well change the trajectory of this student’s life – from one with little possibility to one with infinite possibilities.  Where once there was misunderstanding, frustration and anger with learning, now there was comprehension, clarity and pride. 

And isn’t that why we become teachers?" 

Related Reading:

Our Lives Change, Too: From Fast ForWord® Skeptic to Believer

Indispensible Automaticity: How Reading Frees the Mind to Learn