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Buchanan County Schools See 380% Improvement in Reading with Carnegie Learning

Carnegie Learning, a leader in artificial intelligence for K-12 education and formative assessment, announced  that elementary students from Buchanan County, Virginia School District achieved unprecedented reading gains using Carnegie Learning’s Fast ForWord reading and language program.

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“The activities in Fast ForWord progress as students progress. It’s finally something that’s clicking.”

Buchanan County Public School students in grades K-5 (950 students) worked in the program five days a week for thirty minutes a day. After just a few months in, students’ hard work started paying off.

“Our third graders take state standardized tests, and our scores used to be pretty good,” explained Connie Hibbitts, Instructional Coach for all four elementary-middle schools in the county and an educator with 34 years of experience. “But over the years, they declined. We knew we needed a program to build foundational reading skills,” she explains. “That’s major. We were looking for something that covered all the underlying components of strong literacy. And this program was it.”

Fast ForWord helped Buchanan County elementary school students improve to an 83% pass rate on the Standards of Learning (SOL) test, the yearly state assessment taken by all students in Virginia Public Schools.

“Honestly, we weren’t expecting the program to start working so quickly,” says Hibbitts. “A lot of our students saw tremendous gains and tremendous success, especially in our first year of implementation. This year’s pass rate was the highest we’ve had in many, many years.”

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Of the 439 students in the district who took at least one follow-up assessment in the 2021-22 school year, there was a 49% decrease in struggling readers and a 380% increase in proficient or advanced readers. Students made an average of nine months’ reading gain in just 67 days.

According to Carnegie Learning CEO Barry Malkin, Fast ForWord’s efficacy is second to none. “Backed by over 30 years of research on the science of learning and more than 300 research studies on the software, in addition to having the most What Works Clearinghouse studies of any reading intervention to meet evidence standards, Fast ForWord has earned the Research-Based Design Product Certification from Digital Promise and meets ESSA’s highest standard of ‘Strong Evidence.’”

Rita Breeding, a Title 1 Teacher at Council Elementary School, notes that one reason students responded so positively to Fast ForWord was because of its just-in-time support, which adapted to each student’s skills and challenges. “The activities in Fast ForWord progress as students progress. It’s finally something that’s clicking.”

“Teachers can see a big difference in students’ reading abilities,” adds Hibbitts. “And students are proud of themselves and want to read aloud because they no longer feel ashamed of not being able to read as well as their peers.”

“One great thing about Fast ForWord,” Hibbitts concludes, “is that the program is suitable for all ages and grade levels, as well as special education students. Fast ForWord helps all students succeed at the level they’re at.”

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