Intervention: Fast ForWord®
Fast ForWord® is a computer-based reading program intended to help
students develop and strengthen the cognitive skills necessary for successful
reading and learning. The program, which is designed to be used 30 to 100
minutes a day, five days a week, for 4 to 16 weeks, includes two components.
The first component, the Fast ForWord® Language2 and Literacy3 series,
aims to build cognitive skills such as memory, attention, processing, and
sequencing, as well as language and reading skills, including listening
accuracy, phonological awareness, and knowledge of language structures.
The second component, the Fast ForWord® to Reading4 series
(also known as the Fast ForWord® Reading series), aims to increase
processing efficiency and further improve reading skills such as sound-letter
associations, phonological awareness, word recognition, knowledge of English
language conventions, vocabulary, and comprehension. The program,
developed by scientists with expertise in the areas of brain plasticity, cognitive
development, and reading instruction, is designed to adapt the nature and
difficulty of the content based on individual students’ responses.
Two studies of Fast ForWord® that fall within the scope of the Adolescent
Literacy review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence
standards, and six studies meet WWC evidence standards with reservations.
The eight studies included about 2,000 students, ranging in age from 5 to 17,
who attended elementary, middle, and high schools6 in Indiana, Maryland,
North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, an urban district in the
northeastern United States, and Australia.7
Based on these eight studies, the WWC considers the extent of evidence
for Fast ForWord® on adolescent learners to be small for the alphabetics
and reading fluency domains and medium to large for the comprehension and
general literacy achievement domains.
Fast ForWord® was found to have no discernible effects on the alphabetics
and general literacy achievement domains, and potentially positive effects on
the reading fluency and comprehension domains for adolescent learners.
1 The descriptive information for this program was obtained from a publicly
available source: the program’s website (http://www.scilearn.com/,
downloaded July 2009), as well as information provided to the WWC by
the developer. The WWC requests developers to review the program
description sections for accuracy from their perspective. Further verification
of the accuracy of the descriptive information for this program is beyond the
scope of this review. The literature search reflects documents publicly
available through December 2008.
2 The Fast ForWord® Language series, designed for elementary school
students, includes three products: (1) Fast ForWord® Language Basics,
which focuses on sound sequencing, fine motor skills, hand–eye coordination,
pattern recognition, and color–shape recognition; (2) Fast ForWord®
Language, which focuses on listening accuracy, phonological awareness,
and language structures; and (3) Fast ForWord® Language to Reading,
which focuses on the link between spoken and written language.
3 The Fast ForWord® Literacy series, designed for secondary school
students and adults, includes two products: (1) Fast ForWord® Literacy,
which focuses on listening accuracy, phonological awareness, and language
structures; and (2) Fast ForWord® Literacy Advanced, which focuses on
processing efficiency, memory, concentration, comprehension, and sequencing.
Students in at least two of the studies included in this review used Fast For
Word® Middle and High School, which was discontinued and replaced by
the Fast ForWord® Literacy series.
4 The Fast ForWord® Reading series, designed for students at all reading
levels, includes six products. Fast ForWord® Reading Prep focuses on letter
recognition, phonological awareness, and letter–sound associations. Fast For
Word® Reading Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 focus on a variety of skills, depending
on the level. For example, Level 1 focuses on early reading skills such as
phonemic awareness, early decoding skills, vocabulary knowledge, and
motivation for reading, and Level 5 focuses on skills suitable for more
advanced readers in upper elementary, middle, or high school, such as
reading comprehension and vocabulary skills.
5 The studies in this report were reviewed using WWC Evidence Standards,
Version 1.0 (see the WWC Standards), as described in protocol Version 1.0.
6 The Adolescent Literacy topic area reviews studies of interventions
administered to students in grades 4–12 (or 9–18 years of age). For
studies that include samples of students that span both the Adolescent
Literacy (grades 4–12) and Beginning Reading (grades K–3) topic areas
and cannot be disaggregated by grade level, the Adolescent Literacy topic
area also reviews any studies that include 5th-grade students or higher. For
example, this report includes a combined sample of students from grades
3–6 (Rouse & Krueger, 2004), grades 2–8 (Scientific Learning Corporation,
2004b), and students aged 5–14 years (Scientific Learning Corporation, 2007a).
7 The evidence presented in this report is based on available research.
Findings and conclusions may change as new research becomes available.
8 These numbers show the average and range of student-level improvement
indices for all findings across the studies.
Teachers, Parents and Administrators:
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