Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

May 31, 2011
Schools That Help Students Build Brain Fitness Reduce Special Education Costs

Districts using Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord program improve achievement for students of a wide spectrum of abilities, and reduce costs for intervention services 5/31/11 Media Contact: Jessica LindlSenior Vice President, Marketing and Product ManagementScientific Learning Corporation(510) [email protected] Investor Contact: Bob FellerChief Financial OfficerScientific Learning Corporation(510) [email protected] Oakland, Calif. — May 31, 2011 — According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average per pupil expenditure in U.S. schools today is just over $10,000. The Center for Special Education Finance calculates that for students with disabilities, the cost is 1.9 times more expensive. Even with some state and federal aid, this equates to, on average, nearly $19,000 a year to educate each student with special needs — a significant financial responsibility for school districts especially in these times of severe budget cuts.  However, innovative districts such as Westfield-Washington Schools in central Indiana and St. Mary Parish Public Schools in Louisiana have found a way to reduce special education expenses by effectively addressing foundational reading and learning issues, thereby reducing unnecessary referrals to special education. In 2006, both school districts implemented a brain fitness program called Fast ForWord®. The software program consists of intensive, adaptive exercises that build brain fitness in the areas of memory, attention, processing, and sequencing — cognitive skills essential for learning and reading success. Fast ForWord supports special education students, as well as those working at or above grade level, by improving their ability to learn and retain knowledge. This results in increased reading proficiency, improved comprehension of other subject areas, increased self-confidence, and reduced costs for intervention services. Westfield-Washington Schools In Westfield-Washington Schools, located just north of Indianapolis, schools have realized savings in the reduction of inaccurate referrals to special education. Through the use of the Fast ForWord program, schools have prevented the misidentification of struggling students as special needs students, so doctors […]

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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