Award-Winning School District Leaders Realize Student Gains With the FastForWord and Reading Assistant Programs

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Three innovative superintendents turn to Scientific Learning's neuroscience-based programs to help students overcome a wide variety of challenges.

Scientific Learning Corp. is the developer of the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant software products.

"These programs have helped us close achievement gaps between subgroups and increase student proficiency and growth in reading. They’ve also dramatically increased students’ self-esteem and their enthusiasm for learning."

Three innovative superintendents — Clarke County (Ga.) School District Superintendent Philip D. Lanoue, Murray County Schools (Ga.) Superintendent Vickie Reed, and Boone County (Ky.) Schools Superintendent Randy Poe — have earned national and state recognition for their success in improving student learning and achievement in their districts. And while the types of challenges vary from district to district, two very important foundational approaches have made a measurable difference in the lives of children in all three districts: the Fast ForWord® and Reading Assistant™ programs from Scientific Learning Corp.

This February, Lanoue was named the 2015 National Superintendent of the Year by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Under Lanoue’s leadership, the Clarke County School District has been honored as a Title I Distinguished District for being Georgia’s top large district in closing the achievement gap. Student achievement has risen, especially in the critical transition years of fifth and eighth grades. The district has also received state recognition as a model technology school district and the state’s top award for exceptional Response to Intervention practices. In December, Lanoue was named the Georgia Superintendent of the Year by the Georgia School Superintendents Association and the Georgia School Boards Association.

This February, Reed was named one of Education Week’s 2015 Leaders To Learn From for excellence in school district leadership. Reed is one of 16 district-level leaders who received this honor for tackling some of the most pressing challenges in K-12 education, and for ideas and strategies that are yielding strong results. In Murray County Schools, Reed has been able to drive higher student achievement year after year, even with significant budget cuts that shortened the school calendar from 180 days to 160. Since Reed took the helm, Murray County has made some of the biggest jumps in graduation rates in Georgia, increasing from 57 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2014.

“We believe that all children can learn and that high expectations result in high achievement. In our schools, students use the Fast ForWord program to build foundational reading and language skills, and then we move them to Reading Assistant to develop their fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. In our own research, we see a strong correlation between students’ use of the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs and improved performance on state tests,” said Reed. “We believe that with these programs, we can sustain the high levels of achievement we’ve experienced the past several years. This success validates everyone’s commitment to our vision: ‘Committed to student success ... no exceptions, no excuses!’”

This March, Poe was selected as the 2015 recipient of the F.L. Dupree Superintendent of the Year Award. The award is administered by the Kentucky School Boards Association and judged by previous recipients. Poe was recognized for a number of initiatives and successes in his school district, including a stair-step model to help students reach graduation and efforts to get every child reading on grade level. Through these initiatives and others, students have made large gains in math and reading, and eliminated most achievement gaps. In 2013, Poe was named the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA) Superintendent of the Year.

“You can’t put a price tag on a child being able to read, but as educators we have to be careful about how we spend our limited resources. We’ve found that the return on investment in using Scientific Learning’s products is tenfold,” said Poe. “We have thousands of students who are now reading on grade level, who would not have been able to do that without the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs. These programs have helped us close achievement gaps between subgroups and increase student proficiency and growth in reading. They’ve also dramatically increased students’ self-esteem and their enthusiasm for learning."

“The students and communities served by these districts are realizing great achievements due to the innovation and foresight of these superintendents,” said Robert C. Bowen, CEO of Scientific Learning. “We applaud their leadership, and are honored to consider them our partners.”

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Leslie Eicher
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