When East Oakland students return to school this fall, they will have access to technology based on more than 30 years of research into how the brain learns, thanks to the collaborative efforts of a local school district, two elementary schools, a public library, and an Oakland-based educational software company.
The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is currently in the process of implementing the Fast ForWord® family of educational software products from Oakland-based Scientific Learning Corp. in a new learning complex in East Oakland, which includes Acorn Woodland Elementary School, EnCompass Academy, and the new 81st Avenue Branch Library of the Oakland Public Library. This creative partnership demonstrates a key tenet of the school district's newly adopted Strategic Plan of Full Service Community Schools.
Students will access the Fast ForWord software in a computer lab located in the new library, which is shared by the two OUSD schools and the community. To maximize the benefits of their implementation, the library also plans to make the Fast ForWord program available to adults participating in the Second Start Adult Literacy Program.
The Fast ForWord program accelerates learning for students of a wide spectrum of ages and abilities — including those working at, above or below grade level — by applying research on how the brain learns. By building brain fitness in the areas of memory, attention, processing, and sequencing, learners can realize achievement gains in as little as eight to 12 weeks.
While both schools plan to use the Fast ForWord program this fall, the EnCompass Academy recently completed an eight-week pilot of the software with targeted students participating in an after school intervention program.
“We’re just at the beginning but we’re very excited about what this program offers,” said Minh-Tram Nguyen, principal of EnCompass Academy. “While our students’ proficiency rates have improved every year, the budget cuts have been getting deeper and the achievement requirements have been getting stiffer. The neuroscience research behind the Fast ForWord program supports our existing educational program, and our vision of an educated child and of teaching to the whole child. It will help students become more in tune with how their brains learn and give them the edge they need to succeed.”