WWC review of this study

Improved early reading skills by students in three districts who used Fast ForWord® to Reading 1.

Scientific Learning Corporation. (2005). MAPS for Learning: Educator Reports, 9(1), 1-5.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: March 2013

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA): Phonological Awareness subtest

Fast ForWord® vs. business as usual


Grades 1 and 2;
197 students





Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA): Letter Sounds subtest

Fast ForWord® vs. business as usual


Grades 1 and 2;
197 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Rural, Urban


The study was conducted in three schools located in different districts and states. One school was described as being located in a rural district and another in an urban district. The third school was located in the Springfield City School District, Ohio.

Study sample

During the spring of the 2004–05 school year, 158 first-grade students and 50 second-grade students from three different schools participated in the study. At one school, students from both grades participated, whereas only first-grade students participated at the other two schools. Using random assignment within schools and grades, 103 low-achieving students were assigned to the Fast ForWord® group (78 first-grade students and 25 second-grade students), and 105 students served as a comparison group (80 first-grade students and 25 second-grade students). Four students (two intervention and two comparison) who were older than age 9 at one or both testing times were removed from the analysis sample because they were too old for the norms of the Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA). Additionally, three intervention students and four comparison students moved during the study. Therefore, the analysis sample included 197 students: 75 first-grade students and 23 second-grade students in the intervention group, and 78 first-grade students and 21 second-grade students in the comparison group. Seven study participants (one intervention student and six comparison students) had used the Fast ForWord® Basics product before participating in the study. Results for a subsample of 93 students in the Springfield City School District were also reported in a separate manuscript (Scientific Learning Corporation, 2005d) and can be viewed in Appendix D.1.

Intervention Group

All students in the Fast ForWord® group used the Fast ForWord® to Reading 1 product, a computer-based product designed using first-grade curriculum standards. The Fast ForWord® to Reading 1 protocol called for students to use the product for 48 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 8–12 weeks. Students were pulled out of class to use the program in a computer lab, where two paraprofessionals monitored the students but did not assist with the content except to give instructions.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group took part in the regular school curriculum.

Outcome descriptions

The Phonological Awareness and Letter-Sounds subtests of the Early Elementary version of the TOPA were used for both the pretest and posttest. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Teachers and the paraprofessionals who were monitoring the computer labs were given background information on how phonemic awareness and the acoustic properties of speech can impact development of language and reading skills. They were also trained to implement the program, including approaches for using Progress Tracker, the program’s reporting system, to monitor student performance. Teachers were also trained to assess potential participants for the study and to assess student outcomes.

Reviewed: August 2010

Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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