WWC review of this study

A Randomized Field Trial of the Fast ForWord Language Computer-Based Training Program

Borman, Geoffrey D.; Benson, James G.; Overman, Laura (2009). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v31 n1 p82-106. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ869816

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: March 2013

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Comprehension outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS): Terra Nova Total Reading subtest

Fast ForWord® vs. Business as usual


Grade 2;
118 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.

  • Female: 48%
    Male: 52%

  • Urban
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  • Race
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    Not Hispanic or Latino    


The study took place in four urban schools in the Baltimore City Public School System.

Study sample

Students were eligible for the study if they scored below national norms on the total reading outcome for the district-administered Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, Fifth Edition (CTBS/5) during the spring of 2000. A total of 141 academically at-risk second-grade students (71 intervention and 70 comparison) took pretests (CTBS/5) in the spring of 2001. Random assignment was conducted separately within each school. The analysis sample of students with both pretest and posttest information included 62 intervention students and 56 comparison students. The groups consisted primarily of African-American (92% of the intervention students and 94% of the comparison students) and economically disadvantaged students (75% of students in both groups received free lunch). There were slightly more male participants (52% of the intervention students and 56% of the comparison students) than female participants.

Intervention Group

In addition to their regular reading instruction, students who were randomly assigned to the intervention condition used the Fast ForWord® Language software program in school resource rooms. The resource rooms served as a targeted pullout program offered during the regular school day supplementing the regular classroom literacy instruction. Students received the program 100 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for at least 20 days between April and June 2001, under the supervision of a Fast ForWord®-trained teacher.

Comparison Group

In addition to their regular reading instruction, comparison group students received nonliteracy instruction or participated in special activities and classes, such as art and gym.

Outcome descriptions

The total reading portion of the CTBS/5 Terra Nova was used as both the pretest (Form B in April 2001) and an outcome measure (Form A in June 2001). For a more detailed description of this outcome measure, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

Before the start of the program, Scientific Learning provided training sessions for teachers operating the Fast ForWord® programs at the schools.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Borman, G. D., & Benson, J. Can brain research and computers improve literacy? A randomized field trial of the Fast ForWord® Language computer-based training program. Unpublished report.

  • Borman, Geoffrey D.; Benson, James G.; Overman, Laura. (2009). A Randomized Field Trial of the Fast ForWord Language Computer-Based Training Program. [Fast ForWord vs. business as usual]. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v31 n1 p82-106.


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