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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 14:37 EDT

Penn-Trafford School District Students Gain Confidence, Focus and Skills With Fast ForWord(R) Software

August 8, 2008

Students in the Penn-Trafford School District in Harrison City, Pa. who use Scientific Learning(R) (NASDAQ:SCIL) Fast ForWord(R) products have begun to realize significant gains since beginning the software program earlier this year. The Fast ForWord family of products accelerates learning by developing the student brain to process more efficiently.

Penn-Trafford began using the Fast ForWord products at the high school in January, and a month later, the district implemented the products at its two middle schools and its five elementary schools. In addition to improved academic performance, the district has seen significant increases in attendance with some students even arriving at school early.

“We’ve also seen decreases in behavior problems and increases in confidence, particularly in the high school where many students were dropping out because they saw themselves as hopelessly behind,” said Dr. Deborah Kolonay, superintendent of the Penn-Trafford School District. “Kids are practically running to the lab.”

One 10th grader in particular is one of the most striking cases of improvement at Penn-Trafford High School. Students were selected for the school’s “Fast ForWord classroom” based on their test scores, grades and teachers’ recommendations. According to Fast ForWord teacher Maureen Harris, the young man became her star student, making reading ability gains of two and a half years in just one semester.

“He is actually above grade level now,” said Harris. “I believe he started this class because he thought it looked easier than what he was doing, but then he really began to see the success he was having in and out of the Fast ForWord classroom.” Added the student, “Keep the Fast ForWord thing going because it really does help people. I can pay attention a lot longer now without getting distracted.”

Kolonay related a more unusual high school student success story. “One day, the chemistry teacher couldn’t find a particular student who had a history of skipping classes, among other things. This was a girl we had a very hard time reaching which was one of the reasons we started her in the Fast ForWord lab,” said Kolonay. “Eventually, the teacher found the girl, sitting on the floor under a table in the classroom…reading. This was startling for this student. The fact that she was missing because she was absorbed in a book was just incredible!”

The Fast ForWord family of products consists of scientifically proven, intervention programs that apply neuroscience principles to build the fundamental cognitive skills — memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing — required to read and learn. The strengthening of these skills results in a wide range of improved critical language and reading abilities, such as phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding, working memory, syntax and grammar.

Kathy Kelly, an assistant principal at Penn-Trafford High School, has also seen the impact of the Fast ForWord program. Kelly’s daughter, who is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, began using the software in March at her elementary school. “When I went through the Fast ForWord training, I saw how the software activates the different centers of the brain. While my daughter reads well and comprehends well, there are other skills I thought the Fast ForWord program could strengthen, such as attention and sequencing,” said Kelly. “Recently, I’ve started to notice changes. Her ability to focus has improved. The impulsivity is going away. She’s stopping and thinking before she acts and she’s making better decisions. I think the Fast ForWord program, in combination with tutoring, has also made a positive impact on her grades, particularly in math, since her attention and focus have improved. And, she loves working on the program.”

The program’s success is so well known, Harris has students come up to her in the hall, asking how they can get into the class. “We also get calls and e-mails from parents who are eager to have their children work with the program and from others who are grateful for the Fast ForWord interventions,” Harris said.

One parent wrote about her son, “…(H)is grades this last nine weeks were really good. I feel he is more confident, plus he told me he thinks he is more alert and he told my husband he can remember better when he reads. I can’t believe the progress!”

While the teaching staff will have to wait until August to see the results from the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments (PSSA) that students took in April, preliminary indications from Penn-Trafford’s own districtwide assessment are promising: the students using the program gained an average of 1.1 years in reading skill levels in just 30 days.

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.