Reading is considered one of the most difficult learning tasks to master for about 30% of children, especially boys.

First and foremost, reading is a relatively new act for the brain because it was not a prerequisite for our survival. In other words, we spoke before we read, and as such, in the evolutionary scheme of things, reading requires multiple parallel brain areas to function in synchronicity.

The solution to a successful reading brain usually begins in school but today’s schools are under stress due to increased class size, shortened school days, mandated curriculums and testing, all of which can affect the teacher’s ability to teach and the child’s ability to learn.

Most particularly, teachers’ time with struggling readers can be limited. In addition, even the home environment is lacking, as many parents are ill equipped or lack the expertise and/or time commitments (divorce, work schedule etc.) to provide the needed support for struggling readers.

One reading program called Fast ForWord, developed by Scientific Learning Associates, can give support to both teachers and parents to help readers of all ages and levels achieve reading proficiency.

The beauty of Fast ForWord is that parents can implement the computerized program at home and teachers can access it in the classroom. Most important, Fast ForWord has improved the students’ reading brains and learning at all grade levels, among all genders, including all socioeconomic levels. The rate of improvement is much greater than those of other programs.

Furthermore, the Fast ForWord program takes a direct approach to the child’s critical reading brain areas.

For example, Fast ForWord stimulates the brain’s prime reading areas as well as increases the student’s ability to perform basic cognitive functions essential to reading and learning. Moreover, Fast ForWord has increased memory, attention, processing and sequencing skills of students at all grade levels.

A major component associated with reading mastery and a strength of the Fast ForWord program is the ability to stimulate the student’s working memory (the ability to chunk phonemes, letters etc. into words etc.) and has improved long term memory or the ability for the student to retrieve information necessary for reading proficiency and comprehension.

In addition, Fast ForWord recognizes the brain’s plasticity (ability to develop) by exercising the brain’s reading processing centers through intensive adaptive exercises, so actual physical changes can occur in the child’s reading brain, another essential ingredient for successful reading and learning potential.

Another excellent tool to support teachers and parents associated with the Fast ForWord program is called the Reading Assistant. This program builds brain fitness through intensive reading practice, using speech verification technology to act as a tutor, providing one-to-one guided oral reading support.

A four-year study conducted in the Dallas ISD showed struggling students made significant improvement on their text assessment of knowledge and skills (TAKS) narrowing the achievement gap by 25%. Another study of the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) and the Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (ILEAP) for Fast ForWord users showed that over a two year period, the number of 4th graders scoring Basic or above in Reading increased from 19% to 81%, and the number scoring Basic or above in math increased from 9% to 71 %!

Finally, the Fast ForWord program includes The Scientific Learning Progress Tracker that uses an online data analysis and reporting tool that enables educators to monitor individual, classroom, and school or district performance of students. Educators get clear, detailed action oriented information showing student progress over a period of time as related to specific reading and cognitive areas which are necessary components for reading mastery.

For further information contact Dr. David Sortino at or  707-829- 8315.

Dr. Sortino is a Fast ForWord provider.