Georgia District Recognized for Reading Gains

Scientific Learning Corp. has named Murray County Schools in Georgia a National Reference Site. The district joins a group of 35 National Reference Site schools and districts in the United States and Canada that exemplify the best use of Fast ForWord®, a family of educational software products.

As a National Reference Site, the district will serve as a resource for other schools and districts seeking advice on how to best use the Fast ForWord program to help increase students’ reading proficiency. The school will also participate in research to help Scientific Learning enhance the effectiveness of its products and services.

A high-poverty district, Murray County Schools began using the Fast ForWord program in 2010 to help a group of high school students who, based on previous high stakes test scores, would likely fail the English Language Arts (ELA) component of the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT).

“These students were very much at risk of dropping out. We tried every possible intervention to help them but nothing was working,” said Allison Oxford, the district’s director of instructional support services. “We learned about Fast ForWord and its research-based approach to strengthening brain processing and literacy skills, and we just knew this was the solution we needed.”

The at-risk students began using the Fast ForWord software and after working on it an average of 60 days, nearly 70 percent passed the GHSGT ELA. A few months later, the GHSGT ELA pass rate among this group was up to 81 percent. Based on this success, the district expanded the use of the Fast ForWord program to all 11 of its schools.

“Overall our reading scores were good and we’ve made great progress toward closing the achievement gap, but we still had some students who struggled, no matter what best practices we utilized. Based on the incredible success we saw in our high schools, we knew Fast ForWord could help all students, no matter what grade or subcategory,” said Dr. Vickie Reed, superintendent of Murray County Schools.