I just read a report from the Everett, Massachusetts school district that illustrates what CAN be achieved in helping children catch up, in a very short time. Everett is a north-Boston suburb that was once rated as a top Massachusetts district, but a change in its demographics over the past 40 years has greatly increased the challenges that it faces. 55 languages are now represented in its approximately 6,000 students; 44% of its children are ELLs. A large proportion of its students are from low SES households.
In the 2006-2007 school year, 1290 of the District’s children were enrolled in the intensive brain-plasticity-based Fast ForWord language and reading training programs, in 6 Everett schools. As a result:
1) The percentage of the enrolled students who scored as proficient in reading in these schools jumped from 16 to 38%.
About 30% of American school-age children are proficient readers. Think of what it means, kid by kid, to convert so many children to this higher status with only one year of special effort. Think what it means for each of these schools, to shoot up from a below-average academic training environment to a significantly-above-average environment in a single year. It shall be exciting to see how many MORE children cross this threshold in 2007-2008! It shall be fun to see how far these schools can progress in achievement, across the landscape of Massachusetts public schools!
2) Unprecented gains in State of Massachusetts test scores were recorded for both reading and math in these 6 schools. One school site (Parlin) at which FFW was employed applied was especially impressively transformed, in one year, from having the lowest state test achievement scores in both reading and math in the District, to having the highest.
3) Overall reading comprehension scores over this one year advanced for the average kid by about 2 years. It continues to be fascinating to me that most educational authorities still do not recognize this intensive brain science-based language training (FFW) as a “reading” program. ENABLING successful reading by ‘fixing’ a neurological resource that crucially supports it is just not good enough, for the keepers of the “science of education” or “reading science” flame!
This is a fairly typical story for a school district in which this brain science-based training program has been well-administered. Children do not have to be “left behind”. Kids can catch up. You can see many equally compelling examples of this at