Double " teaching as usual" reading gain - 146 NSW primary students

Picture of Peter Barnes
Peter Barnes
Reading, Fast ForWord, For Principals

Here is how a primary school achieved double the reading gain one would normally expect.

Picture this:  Following a half day professional development session, "Glasses for the Ears" where the teachers discovered how their students could become better learners by using neuroscience, students of all abilities from Grades 2 to 6 were enrolled in the Fast ForWord neuroscience-based program.

The teachers who volunteered to implement the program received more detailed ongoing training and support.

The teachers learnt that Fast ForWord consists of "brain training" modules, which build learning capacity, and "reading development" modules designed to specifically improve a range of age appropriate reading skills.

Before students started the program their reading level was determined using the online Reading Progress Indicator, an assessment which measures changes in:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Decoding
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

They all took the Reading Progress Indicator again at the end of their program - on average 7 months later.

The result: The 146 students who completed pre & post testing achieved an average reading gain of 14 months. This is double what would logically be expected from “teaching as usual”, i.e. you would expect that on average the students would gain approximately seven months from seven months in the classroom. 

Best results from combination of brain training & reading development

  • Two thirds of the 146 students used the Fast ForWord Brain Training modules only and averaged 13.6 months gain
  • 5 students who used just the Reading Development modules averaged 11.4 months gain
  • 34 students who used a combination of one Brain Training module with Reading Development averaged 12.5 months gain
  • But the really significant point is the average gain lifted to 22 months - almost 2 years of growth - for the 16 students who used Reading Development after both Brain Training modules

Accelerating vocabulary development

The other key point about combining Reading Development with the Brain Training is that it accelerates vocabulary acquisition.  Whereas Brain Training or Reading Development alone resulted in a vocabulary gain of about 10%, the vocabulary gain from the combined Brain Training and Reading Development programs averaged 25%.

Shifting the bell curve of results

There is 20 years of published research showing the gap closing gains of using Fast ForWord with students challenged by a variety of learning difficulties. But this school’s results showed the Fast ForWord programs have the potential to shift the bell curve of results for a student cohort - students of all abilities benefited.

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