Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

August 29, 2019
6 Things Educators Need to Know about the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

What does ESSA mean for educators in 2019-2020? As the new school year begins, educators may be wondering what the second year of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will look like for their schools.  Keep reading to learn 6 ways that ESSA can change education in America.  What is ESSA? The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a US law passed in December 2015 that marks a major shift in education policy for K-12 schools. Signed into law to replace its predecessor No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the act governs American education policy and is the main law for all public schools. With the stated purpose of providing all children with equitable opportunities to receive high-quality education and close achievement gaps, the law retains elements of NCLB but effectively returns federal accountability provisions to states. In doing so, ESSA leaves more control to states and districts in setting student education standards and determining the consequences of low-performing schools. Although the act was initially planned to take effect during the 2017-18 school year, its implementation was delayed by the repeal of certain regulations. With every state now following ESSA’s guidelines after the act went into effect in the 2018-19 school year, let’s take a look at how ESSA will change education for our K-12 students and educators.  How ESSA will affect educators With the implementation of ESSA guidelines and requirements in every state, here are some things to expect for American education systems: 1. ESSA encourages new measures of school success. As states are responsible for having a plan in place to identify struggling schools, ESSA introduces additional accountability indicators to create a more accurate scope of student success in schools. While standard academic factors like graduation rate and test performance remain a key part of measuring success, ESSA […]

April 20, 2011
Students Exceed State Average on TAKS after Fast ForWord, Maintain Gains

Since the 2004-2005 school year, the Dallas Independent School District has used the Fast ForWord products in many of their high schools. This multi-year study followed more than 500 high school students from 20 schools over the years of their Fast ForWord participation.   This study shows impressive longitudinal results on the TAKS which is The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills which is administered annually throughout Texas and is closely aligned with the state curricular standards.   A longitudinal study is a type of study that follows the same subjects over time. Students started with the Fast ForWord Middle & High School product, now known as the Fast ForWord Literacy product. Many went on to use the Fast ForWord Language to Reading and Fast ForWord to Reading products. On average, students spent 60 days using the products during a 5 ½ month period.  The scores of Fast ForWord participants moved in step with the state average until the students started to use Fast ForWord products.  During the year of Fast ForWord product use, the participants experienced accelerated learning that separated their performance from that of their peers.  Even up to two years after they finished using the products, the Fast ForWord participants maintained their improvements. The TAKS gains made during the study were statistically larger for the Dallas Fast ForWord participants than the gains made by their statewide peers.

July 13, 2010
The Results of Fast ForWord Use at the Westfield Washington Schools in Indiana

The Westfield Washington Schools are located just north of Indianapolis, in Indiana. During the 2007 - 2008 school year, the Westfield Intermediate School implemented Fast ForWord products. For this study, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) were used as a pre- and post-test. The MAP assesses language arts, math, and reading skills. Ninety-eight students used the Fast ForWord products and had MAP scores that could serve as pre- and post-tests. School personnel administered the assessment and then reported scores to Scientific Learning for analysis. On average, students used the products over a period of six months. The majority of students used three or more Fast ForWord products, starting on the Fast ForWord Literacy product, then advancing to the Literacy Advanced product, and then on to one or more Fast ForWord Reading products. MAP scores are reported in terms of RIT scores, which indicate a student’s achievement level within a specific subject. To provide a performance comparison, participants’ gains were compared to the student’s expected gains, which were based upon RIT growth norms in the three subject areas of language arts, math, and reading. Students showed exciting results and exceeded the expected RIT growth norms. Students who used Fast ForWord products made 7 points of RIT growth in language arts, which is 67% greater than the expected growth of 4.2 points. Gains of 10.1 points were seen in math for the Fast ForWord participants, which is 35% greater than the expected growth. Students gained 8.8 points in reading, which is nearly double the expected 4.5 points growth. The differences between the gain scores and the expected gain scores were statistically significant in all three subject areas. These results suggest that using the Fast ForWord products strengthened the students’ foundational skills and better positioned them to benefit from the classroom curriculum.

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