- School District: Goochland County Public Schools
- Number of Schools: 5
- Number of Students: 2,594
- Grades: PreK-12
5% Two or More Races
1% Asian/Pacific Islander,
30% Economically disadvantaged
13% Special Education
3% English language learners (ELLs)
Goochland Helps Middle and High School Students Quickly Close Reading Gaps with the Fast ForWord® Program
- Students entering middle and high school with reading gaps
- Growing population of English language learners (ELLs)
- Fast ForWord®
- Grades 6 - 10 including:
- All students in standard English classes
- Special Education
- Improvements in students' reading, language, and listening skills
“The program’s built-in differentiation allows us to meet the needs of each student, whether they’re below, at, or above grade level. As a teacher in a classroom of 30 students, it would be impossible to provide the immediate, individualized feedback that Fast ForWord provides.”
— Emily Holloway-Costa, English Teacher
The Fast ForWord program is a neuroscience-based, online intervention program that uses a unique threestep approach to deliver fast gains to struggling students. It provides them with the foundational language and cognitive skills, intensive practice, and guided reading help that they need to catch up, once and for all.
“Fast ForWord is so different from other interventions. We thought this approach could be very helpful for our students,” said Holloway-Costa.
• 55% of students made up to half a year’s growth
• 11% made .6 to 1 year of growth
• 13% made 1.1 to 1.5 years of growth
• 21% made more than 1.5 years of growth
- Set goals.
- Create a culture that embraces the Fast ForWord program.
- Have teachers try it themselves.
- Be consistent in the implementation.
- Have students keep their own progress charts with points for each exercise.
- Create a Wall of Fame for students who level up; they notice it!
- Put students into teams, track points on a scoreboard, and award a prize — or at least recognition or bragging rights — for the best average score.
- Create a chart for each class and hold competitions.
- Talk to students’ parents to enlist their support.
- Assign a grade based on each student’s participation and attendance in the program.
As a result, ELLs are quickly closing language and reading gaps. “One student had a MAP® reading score of 185 at beginning of year and by the end of March it was 199; that’s two to three times the expected growth for that period of time,” said Holloway-Costa. “Another student arrived at school speaking no English. After using Fast ForWord, she said it’s now much easier to understand what people are saying.”
- Be aware of differences in students’ educational backgrounds.
- Be aware of gaps in their technology knowledge.
- Make sure students don’t feel alone in using the program. Seeing others using it goes a long way!
- Keep other teachers in the loop and demonstrate connections between their classes and the Fast ForWord program.
- Create groups and conduct rotating activities to allow for more one-on-one interaction and spoken English between students.
- Educate parents about the program’s importance to support buy-in.
Working toward district goals
“We have several end goals for the Fast ForWord program. We want to increase literacy levels for all students. We want to decrease remediation needs for our state Standards of Learning (SOL) testing, particularly in the humanities. We want to bridge gaps between student groups, reduce the dropout rate, and raise SAT and ACT scores,” said Holloway-Costa. “Our ultimate dream goal is to explore the possibility of making Fast ForWord more widely available in the elementary schools to level the playing field early on.”
As the district works toward these goals, teachers are seeing positive results in their classrooms.
“The Fast ForWord program reduces the cognitive load and the strain that students used to feel when reading,” said Holloway-Costa. “They no longer feel that reading is hard. Instead, they think, ‘I can do this.’ It’s improving their reading skills, their listening skills, and their comprehension — and they notice these changes as they're happening. It is an amazing program for our students."