- School District: Cumberland County School District
- Number of Students: 53,159
- Grades: Pre-K to 12
- Population: ELL Students 1%; Students with IEPs 14%
- Assessment tool: EOG
- School Structure: SubUrban
Cumberland County School District sees "amazing results" for all types of students using Fast ForWord® software.
When a group of educators at the Cumberland County, North Carolina School District approached the Superintendent of Schools about a group of products called Fast ForWord, he agreed to try a pilot program at just one school.
The school district ran the pilot in kindergarten, first and second grade classes at one of their primary schools, and the results made them immediately sit up and take notice "We pre- and post-tested the students," says Ron Phipps, Director of Elementary Education, "and the results were so good that the Superintendent took one look and agreed to immediately fund some more schools."
From One School to 31 In Under Two Years.
By the following fall term, Cumberland County had implemented Fast ForWord software in 14 schools, and a year later, they were up to 28. By that Christmas, 3 more schools were added, bringing the total up to 31.
"Although we ran all types of students on the software, we tried to specially target those who are borderline at-risk," Phipps said. "We try to catch them even before they are tested at the third-grade level and found to be low performers. That way, we can keep them out of remedial programs to begin with."
This saves the school district a great deal of money, he explains, as well as saving kids from the stigma of being put into Exceptional Child programs.
Better Attention Means Quicker Advancement.
Phipps says some of the changes they've seen have been "amazing and unexpected." For instance, "Teachers are telling us that their younger students are more attentive in class and advance very quickly through their sight word lists." Many of them,says Phipps, are showing 1-2 year grade advances after just two months of using the software.
But perhaps some of the most spectacular results have taken place at the high school level. "We've got one kid in 9th grade who was told he'd never learn to read or write," Phipps says. "And now we've got him on videotape reading The Giving Tree."
Phipps has heard from high school principals who say Fast ForWord products "change kids' whole self-esteem.” The principal will tell you they now look you in the eyes when they're talking to you, because they're no longer ashamed of who they are.
Phipps claims that Fast ForWord products have changed Cumberland County students "academically, socially, mentally, every way that you can think of."
Phipps cautions that it is imperative to use the right protocol to get optimal results. "The first year, we were running a 100-minute protocol, and the kids were just burning out after a while. But then we switched to the 40- and 50-minute protocol, and the kids are enjoying it. "They think they are playing games, he says, "and they just don't realize how much they're learning."
A Community Takes Notice Of "Fantastic" Results.
According to Phipps, "Word has definitely gotten out in the community, and several parents have requested that their children be switched from schools that don't have Fast ForWord to schools that do."
Phipps says he would "absolutely" recommend Fast ForWord software to other school districts. "I would be glad to share our data…when they see the results we've gotten over three years of time, they'll be amazed," he says. "The results have been just fantastic."