Lighthouse Charter School’s Struggling Readers Make Headway With the Help of Patented ”Brain Rewiring” Technology
The students of Lighthouse Community Charter School have found a new way to harness their brainpower. In March 2008, the school started using the full suite of neuroscience-based Fast ForWord(R) products from Scientific Learning (NASDAQ:SCIL) to enhance the learning capacity of struggling readers. In just 12 weeks of using the software programs, two-thirds of the participating students have shown at least half a year’s gain in reading skills.
“We think it’s really powerful and we’ve seen the proof,” said Melissa Barnes-Dholakia, Lighthouse’s director of instruction. One student success story is of a sixth grader whom Barnes-Dholakia describes as a “superstar” pupil. The young girl began working on the Fast ForWord software through Lighthouse’s before-school reading intervention group to address a specific reading difficulty, slow processing. In just a few short weeks, she made a gain of 1.8 years in her reading skills using the Fast ForWord program. “When I told her how she’d done, she just lit up,” said Barnes-Dholakia, who runs the before-school group. “She glowed in a way I hadn’t seen before.”
The student is just one of the 165 students in Lighthouse’s elementary program who received reading intervention via the Fast ForWord software; 180 in the overall K-12 population worked on the programs during the past semester. The school’s youngest students who struggle with literacy are pulled into reading intervention sessions during the independent reading time of their regular reading workshop class. Sixth graders have a special enrichment block that now includes sessions on the Fast ForWord software for two months.
The school also runs a resource support program, three after-school groups and five groups during school days. “The computer lab has 26 computers and in this way we can cycle through nine classes,” explained Barnes-Dholakia.
The school also puts fourth graders identified as on the cusp between reading competence and failure on the programs. Two fourth graders in particular were a little below the literacy level for their grade. Both have made gains of more than a year. “They were so motivated and excited about completing different parts of the program and different levels,” said Barnes-Dholakia. “All the students are really invested in doing well.”
Drawing on the concept of brain plasticity, the brain’s ability to change as it learns new skills, the patented technology in the Fast ForWord programs strengthens users’ cognitive skills of memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing. The suite’s programs range in focus from building a solid language foundation for literacy to developing advanced reading skills such as comprehension.
“My favorite part of the Scientific Learning technology is that it is based on the belief and research that if child has a learning disability, the brain can be exercised and can overcome the problem,” said Barnes-Dholakia. “The children at Lighthouse are from predominantly low-income families. Their parents are usually told if you don’t have it, you just don’t have it. At Lighthouse we say, ‘We believe in your child and here’s how we are going to help change things.’ Scientific Learning has been instrumental in helping us make some big changes in these students’ lives.”
About Lighthouse Community Charter School
The mission of the Lighthouse Community Charter School (LCCS) is to prepare a diverse, K-12 student population for higher education or the career of their choice by equipping each child with the skills, knowledge, and tools to become a self-motivated, competent, lifelong learner. The school is located at 345 12th Street in Oakland.
About Scientific Learning Corp.
Scientific Learning creates educational software that accelerates learning by improving the processing efficiency of the brain. Based on more than 30 years of neuroscience and cognitive research, the Fast ForWord(R) family of products provides struggling readers with computer-delivered exercises that build the cognitive skills required to read and learn effectively. Scientific Learning Reading Assistant(TM) combines advanced speech recognition technology with scientifically-based courseware to help students strengthen fluency, vocabulary and comprehension to become proficient, life-long readers. The efficacy of the products has been established by more than 550 research studies and publications. For more information, visit www.scientificlearning.com or call toll-free 888-452-7323.