- School District: Smoky Hill ESC
- Number of Schools: 62 districts in consortium
- Grades: K - 12
- Assessment tool: Kansas State Assessment
- School Structure: Rural
Why Smoky Hill ESC is getting 62 Kansas school districts to use Fast ForWord® software.
Note: Smoky Hill Education Service Center (ESC) is one of seven independent, entrepreneurial service centers in the state of Kansas that serves a large number of school districts, offering top-quality staff development, professional development and resources to schools that can't provide those capabilities on their own. This is the story of how Smoky Hill discovered Fast ForWord products, and why it is now distributing them to dozens of school districts all over the state.
Larry Patrick isn't easily sold on someone else's idea of what a good product is about. So when he heard about Fast ForWord software he still took his time thinking about it.
"I went to an educator's conference in Wichita back in January of 2001," he recalls," and I started having some discussions with the local Scientific Learning sales rep." Following that, he says, "I spent 18 months researching Scientific Learning and Fast ForWord.”
"The Smoky Hill ESC is a consortium," Patrick explains. "We now represent 62 school districts and I can't bring them anything bad."
When Patrick attended a technology and learning conference in Dallas, he asked the Scientific Learning sales rep to turn him loose among the local educators. "I told her, 'I don't want you to be with me,'" he recalls. "I just want to talk to these people, educator to educator, without a sales person there." She agreed.
Patrick was so impressed with what he heard that he decided to offer Fast ForWord software to all the school districts in his consortium.
Catching On Like Wildfire.
After placing the consortium's first order for Fast ForWord products, Patrick began "prepping" the superintendents in his school districts.
"We had to get them to believe in the idea," he says. "Because it is different from anything else that's out there. Fast ForWord, when you use it properly, actually retrains the brain. People sometimes don't get that."
Smoky Hill began distributing Fast ForWord products to some of its school districts in May 2003, and by September, Patrick says, "It was catching on like wildfire."
Even before any testing was done, the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the Fast ForWord products was coming in from teachers all over Kansas.
"The superintendents are sold on this, the teachers are sold on it, and the parents like the results."
Success For a Wide Range of Students.
"There was one young man," he recalls, who had taken the IOWA test, and his basic skills were at about the 3rd grade, 6th month. After he used Fast ForWord software, he was functioning at the 7th grade, 4th month level.
Patrick also remembers an autistic child with educator parents, who used two Fast ForWord language programs. "His parents wrote me a note at Christmas that brought tears to my eyes. It said, 'You know, Larry, this may not sound like it's much, but our son can now manage his own calendar.' That's huge for a kid with autism!"
Patrick tells about a 3rd grade student, an EMH (Educationally Mentally Handicapped) child, who went from a 3 percentile on the Gates McGinite to a 27 percentile. "Now that's not rocket science," he says, "but it's a huge gain for an EMH child."
Behavioral Changes in Residential Treatment Programs.
Patrick has also had reports coming in from residential treatment programs about big behavioral changes in the classroom. "I see a lot of kids with psychiatric issues, lots of attention deficit, a lot on medication," he says. "And since we started doing Fast ForWord, our classrooms have really settled down." Patrick concedes that without testing "we can't attribute it all to Fast ForWord, but the anecdotal evidence is a really powerful force."
The Orders Just Keep Coming In.
Pre and post-test results have shown without a doubt that Fast ForWord software is working in school districts statewide. "The superintendents are sold on this, the teachers are sold on it, and the parents like the results."