The study took place at four primary schools in the Perth metropolitan area in Western Australia.
Students between ages 5 and 14 identified by classroom teachers as having difficulties in language, literacy, auditory processing, attention, and/or behavior were randomly assigned to immediate or delayed treatment conditions, with 72 students in each group. The intervention group that received Fast ForWord® either between February and April or May and July of 2006 was compared to the group of students who had not received Fast ForWord® as of April 2006. In all, 68 students in the Fast ForWord® group and 69 students in the comparison group were included in the analysis sample.
Fast ForWord® participation was scheduled during class time for most students, generally in place of their language-arts lesson. A few students participated before school and during recess and/or lunch breaks. All Fast ForWord® sessions were monitored by trained parent volunteers under the supervision of the school’s Fast ForWord® coordinator. Participants in the Fast ForWord® group used (1) the 50-minute Fast ForWord® Language protocol or the 48-minute Fast ForWord® Middle and High School protocol and (2) the 50-minute Fast ForWord® Language to Reading protocol. These protocols called for participants to use Fast ForWord® each day, five days a week, for 8 to 12 weeks. The study reported students’ outcomes after three months of program implementation.
The counterfactual in this study is regular classroom instruction. The comparison group used Fast ForWord® on a delayed schedule, either between May and July or July and September 2006
All tests were administered by speech pathology and occupational therapy students who were trained in the assessment process by qualified speech pathologists. Study students’ skills were measured both before and after use of the intervention. Alphabetic skills were measured by the Queensland University Inventory of Literacy (QUIL), whereas students’ skills in comprehension were measured by the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF)–Fourth Edition. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendices A2.1 and A2.4.
Support for implementation
Sonic Hearing, a private clinical practice with expertise in the Fast ForWord® programs, provided training for the parent monitors and support for the Fast ForWord® coordinator at each school. All Fast ForWord® sessions were monitored by these trained parent volunteers, under the supervision of the school’s Fast ForWord® coordinator. In addition, the lab supervisors at the schools were trained in current and established findings on the neuroscience of how phonemic awareness and the acoustic properties of speech affect development of language and reading skills, information on the efficacy of the products, effective implementation techniques, and monitoring student progress.