Since launching the Fast ForWord® program in 2008, Delshire Elementary has achieved significant gains on the Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) in reading. In fall 2010, Delshire set a new record in the Oak Hills Local School District with 84% of third graders achieving proficiency on the fall OAA — a gain of 30 percentage points since fall 2008. In 2011, for the first time, the school achieved a designation of “Excellent with Distinction,” the state’s highest rating.
The Oak Hills Local School District encompasses the Green and Delhi townships in western Hamilton County, just minutes from downtown Cincinnati. For the last nine years, the suburban district has maintained an Excellent rating on the Ohio state report card.
Despite the district’s strong performance, one school, Delshire Elementary, was not consistently performing as well as the other elementary schools on district and state assessments.
“Delshire Elementary did well but it was lagging behind the other elementary schools, based on TerraNova standardized achievement tests and Ohio Achievement Assessments,” said Jeff Langdon, director of curriculum and instruction.
In addition, students entering Delshire Elementary did not score as well overall as their peers on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment – Literacy (KRA-L), a brief assessment tool that helps teachers identify early reading skills.
To help address these challenges, Oak Hills Local School District implemented the Fast ForWord program at Delshire Elementary in fall 2008. Fast ForWord is a family of educational software products that accelerate learning by applying proven research on how the brain learns. The products can improve student achievement by one to two years in as little as eight to 12 weeks.
At Delshire, all K-3 students work on the Fast ForWord software 30 minutes a day in the computer lab. Students are monitored by their classroom teacher and the lab teacher.
“When students are in the lab, they work with their teachers to set individual goals and track their progress, which helps them take responsibility for their own learning,” said Travis Hunt, principal of Delshire Elementary. “Students know what they need to accomplish each day and they put forth their best effort which, in turn, helps them to be successful in the classroom.”
“One key difference between the Fast ForWord program and other interventions we’ve used is that the program is self-paced,” said Langdon. “Students receive individualized instruction for a solid 30 minutes every day. So, you can have 25 students working in the lab and all 25 can be in a different place in the software program. Every time their fingers hit a key, the program directs or redirects them exactly where they need to go. This allows the teacher to act as a facilitator, monitoring students as they progress through the program and providing assistance as needed.”
According to Langdon and Hunt, the main benefit of the Fast ForWord program is that more Delshire students are now reading at or above grade level. “We have been able to close the gap for many children,” said Langdon. “We’ve also heard a lot of positive feedback from parents who say, ‘My child was a struggling reader and all of a sudden something clicked, and now he’s reading.’”
Thanks to the hard work of teachers, students, parents and administrators, Delshire students have achieved measurable gains in reading on the OAA, which is administered in the fall and spring in third grade, and in the spring only in fourth and fifth grade.
“In 2008, 54 percent of our third grade students passed the OAA in the fall, which was atypical of what we’ve seen year after year in Oak Hills. In spring 2009, 72 percent of the kids passed. In fall 2009, 75 percent of third graders passed and that went all the way up to 93 percent passing in spring 2010,” said Hunt. “This year, we’re really excited because this is the first year our third graders had the Fast ForWord program in both first and second grade. This fall, 84 percent of our third graders passed the OAA; it was the highest passing rate in the district.”
|Delshire Elementary – Grade 3
Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) – Reading Percentage of students achieving proficiency
|Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) – Reading Percentage of students achieving proficiency (The state requirement is 75%) Spring 2011
|Oak Hills Local School District
|State of Ohio
District administrators are impressed with Delshire students’ gains as well. “This past fall, in 2010, 84 percent of Delshire’s third graders passed the state test. Traditionally, in the fall, our highest performing buildings will come in anywhere between 72 and 79 percent passing. This year, Delshire set the pace for the district,” said Langdon. “The students who took the third grade test at Delshire have had the Fast ForWord program every year since the first grade, which leads me to believe that the program is a factor in why we’re seeing these gains.”
For the 2009-10 school year, Delshire earned a school designation of “Excellent” on its state report card. The school met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements for all students, as well as economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities. In 2010-11, for the first time, Delshire earned the state’s highest designation, “Excellent with Distinction.”
“An Excellent rating is expected in our district and our schools work hard to achieve that rating,” said Langdon. “We use a number of programs and resources in our schools to help all our students achieve to their highest potential. Fast ForWord definitely supports our goal that all students pass the state test. Delshire has made impressive gains in its reading scores in grades three, four and five, and in some areas is even leading the pack. I think the neuroscience research behind the Fast ForWord program is amazing. I know Fast ForWord is part of the right solution for our kids.”