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What Works Clearinghouse

Report Summary


Fast ForWord® was found to have positive effects on alphabetics, no discernible effects on reading fluency, and mixed effects on comprehension for beginning readers.

Program Description

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 30–100 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 4–16 weeks, includes three series. The Fast ForWord® Language series and the Fast ForWord® Literacy series aim to build cognitive skills such as memory, attention, processing, and sequencing. They also strive to build language and reading skills, including listening accuracy, phonological awareness, and knowledge of language structures. The Fast ForWord® to Reading 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 is designed to adapt the nature and difficulty of the content based on individual student’s responses.


The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified nine studies of Fast ForWord® that both fall within the scope of the Beginning Reading topic area and meet WWC evidence standards. Seven studies meet standards without reservations and two studies meet WWC evidence standards with reservations, and together, they included 1,390 students from several areas of the United States and Western Australia.

The WWC considers the extent of evidence for Fast ForWord® on the reading skills of beginning readers to be medium to large for two outcome domains—alphabetics and comprehension—and small for one outcome domain—reading fluency. There were no studies that meet standards in the general reading domain, so we do not report on the effectiveness of Fast ForWord® for that domain in this intervention report.

This intervention report was prepared for the WWC by Mathematica Policy Research under contract ED-IES-13-C-0010.