Home' Independence : Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 2011 Contents Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 11 9
Independence Vol 36 No 1 May 11 9
LEARNING & TEACHING
gains ranging from three to four years;
others made gains of three to six months.
Anecdotally, it seems that the students
with ADHD and ASD diagnoses made
fewer gains in performance on the RPI,
but were the same students about whom
the most positive feedback was made by
staff and parents, who noticed changes
in the students’ attitude, self esteem,
relationships with others, performance
During Phase 2 (2009) targeted students
worked with staff to identify a subject or
subjects to drop for the time they were in
the Fast ForWord program. The lessons
of the previous year had demonstrated
that the students who were withdrawn
from classes were those who could least
afford to miss instruction, especially as
their classroom teachers expected them to
catch up the work they had missed.
The decision was taken to introduce the
Fast ForWord Reading programs for
students whose performance, on their
last RPI, indicated that they were still
not operating within two years of their
age peers or fell below the twenty-third
percentile on national profiles.
Because these students were being re-
enrolled into the program, they completed
another RPI, and it was found that they
had all made further improvements,
ranging from a couple of months up to a
couple of years. Again, the students with
ADHD and ASD made the smaller gains.
One student, diagnosed with dyspraxia,
made the largest gain of just over two
years. During this phase, depending on
the perceived needs of the individual
students, Fast ForWord Literacy, Literacy
Advanced and Reading 1-5 were offered.
As students finished Literacy Advanced an
assessment was made regarding whether,
or when, they should start the Reading
In 2010, the Direct Instruction Decoding
Reading program was replaced with Fast
ForWord Reading 1-5 for students who
needed specific reading interventions.
This decision was made for a number of
reasons: the programs allow progress at
the pace appropriate for the individual;
the return of students (after an absence)
does not impact the program or
progress of other students; the use of a
computer adds a degree of rigour (not
easily achieved with a group of students
who have well-developed avoidant
behaviours); students in the one room can
be working on any number of different
programs simultaneously without
impacting other students; and students are
able to take more responsibility for their
Given the successful outcomes – both
academic and behavioural – of the
program in 2008 and 2009, in 2010 all
Year 7 students completed Fast ForWord
Literacy and Literacy Advanced. The full
impact of this initiative will not be seen
until the end of 2015, but there have been
some very encouraging outcomes so far.
Statistical analysis of the results showed
that the average improvement across the
group was 10 months. This was despite
the general perception that they were
an accomplished group of students. The
greatest individual improvement was
four years and three months. Using the
national percentiles as a reference point:
eight students were on the ninety-ninth
percentile on the RPI pre-test and 18 on
the final test; five per cent of students
were below the twenty-third percentile,
but only one per cent on the post-test;
25 per cent of students were below the
fiftieth percentile, but only 14 per cent on
the post-test; and 80 per cent of students
were below the ninetieth percentile, but
only 65 per cent on the post-test.
While we do not have the resources to
use fMRI research to validate our results,
there have been observable academic and
behavioural improvements in students
who were targeted for interventions.
Most importantly, students themselves are
able to articulate the ways in which the
programs have changed their perception
of themselves as learners.
Principal, Braemar College
See www.soniclearning.com.au; www.
fastforword.com.au; www.scilearn.com .
Braemar College students at work on a Fast ForWord® program.
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