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Fast ForWord Program Usage in Preschool Program Evaluation Fall 2011 Table of Contents Executive Summary…………………………………………………………… …………………………………3 Introduction…………………………………………………………….. ………………………………………….5 Focus of the Evaluation………………………………………………………………………… ……………..5 Brief Overview of Evaluation Plan and Procedures……………………………….………………6 Presentation of Evaluation Results……………………………………………………….…………...7 Conclusions and Recommendations…………………………………………………. ……………….9 Appendices……………………………………………………………………… ……………….………………..12 Executive Summary The purpose of this evaluation is to describe the impact of the Statesboro High Preschool Fast ForWord program and to determine if this impact justifies the continuation of the program being used with the preschool students. Currently, this program is offered on-site to all twenty preschool students. The students work on the program for thirty minutes five days a week in a computer lab located on campus. In making this determination, the following evaluation questions were posed: • Does the Fast ForWord Program help students better comprehend directions and successfully carry out directions? • Do these students benefit from this program in that it promotes a desire for reading? • Does the program increase student participation and involvement? Data was collected from multiple sources were used to gather information for the above evaluation questions. Student reports, interviews, questionnaires and observations were examined in this evaluation. Evaluation findings conclude that since the beginning of the school year in August of 2011, the Fast ForWord program has: • • • • • Improved mouse computer skills. Improved shape, size, and color recognition. Listening accuracy, Auditory attention, and Following directions Letter names and sounds Memory Introduction Fast ForWord software strengthens brain processing and literacy skills to increase reading proficiency in students of all ages. Reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, memory, and much more can be improved with this comprehensive, research-based reading intervention program. Students that struggle can benefit just as much as those that are not struggling by building their reading skills and becoming much better readers that are interested in reading. Fast ForWord was implemented in the preschool class at Statesboro High School for the first time this semester. The students are allotted thirty minutes every day to play the games in the Fast ForWord computer lab. Prior to the students beginning the program, both the teacher and assistant teachers attended a half day training session. The students then started out by use the demo mode on the games in order to become familiar with the computer and how to play the games the correct way. After two weeks of demo the students were logged on under their name and the online progress tracker started keeping up with their daily progress. There are many components of the Fast ForWord program. The two used in preschool classes are language basics and reading readiness. There are three games in language basics. The games are called: Inside the Tummy (goals: computer mouse skills, color, shape, and size), Flying Saucer (goals: listening accuracy), and Drag Racer (auditory attention). There are six games in Reading Readiness, which students are allowed to go on to once they have successfully completed all games in language basics. (The program lets the teacher know when it is time to add reading readiness to the student accounts.) The games in reading readiness are: Inside the Tummy (Computer mouse skills, color, shape, and size), Hungry Tummy (following directions), Packing Pig Goes to Work (letter names), Packing Pig Has Lunch (letter names, working memory), Coaster (letter sounds), and Houndini (phonemic awareness). Teachers monitor student progress by walking around the computer lab to assist and observe each day and through the online progress tracker. Teachers log in to the online progress tracker through the Fast ForWord website and may access the data anywhere with an internet connection. This evaluation will formally assess the student gains and stakeholder perceptions of the current use of the Fast ForWord program. The presentation of this study will provide information for Statesboro High School administrators and staff who will decide if the program should continue to be used in the preschool class. Focus of the Evaluation The Fast ForWord Program, which began in Bulloch County in 2007, after two schools did not meet the AYP criteria for academic performance and one of the schools was in “Needs Improvement” status at the current time. The first installation of the program was to Langston Chapel Elementary and Middle school. Today, it is in all the elementary and middle schools in the district, including three programs offered to special education students in high school. The program was introduced to help students ranging from K-5th grade to improve reading skills and achieve gains on the Georgia CriterionReferenced Competency Tests in reading and English language arts. Students as young as Preschool work on the program for 30 minutes and students grades 1-8 work on it for 40-50 minutes every day. Each classroom that offers the Fast ForWord program is monitored by a teacher or paraprofessional, along with Fast ForWord’s Progress Tracker, an online data analysis and reporting tool, staff members monitor each student’s daily performance. This program can increase student achievement and participation in school when used correctly during the semester. Students are not required to use this program but are highly encouraged to do so if their averages fall below the states’ average on the CRCT. Starting the students in Preschool will give them a head start on their reading skills as well as their English language arts for kindergarten. Brief Overview of Evaluation Plan and Procedures To assess the impact of the Fast ForWord Program at Statesboro High School’s preschool, information detailing student gains, was collected through teacher interviews, student polling, and system data analysis. The program has been through evaluation through the county school system and was proven to be very successful and Statesboro High School preschool was chosen to be a pilot to see if the program was effective prior to kindergarten. In order to collect the qualitative data relating to the current Fast ForWord program, evaluators asked teachers questions about the program and as well as polling the students about the program. The data collected was reviewed using the answers from the teachers (Appendix A) and the student’s polling answers (Appendix B). The Program tracker was accessed during the evaluation for the student’s daily participation in the program, including how many different games were played, which level each student reached and completion of games. In all, all the qualitative data was collected from 21 individuals whom participated in the Fast ForWord program at Statesboro High School preschool. Presentation of Evaluation Results Summary of Evaluation Findings The Fast ForWord program was designed to help students rapidly improve reading and learning ability by building memory, attention, processing rate, and sequencing skills. Our group heavily supports the program but there is one change we thought we could make to improve the program as a whole. We would be to make a series of games that were really fun for the students and introduce them to playing on a computer; some of the children who are in the program have never been on computer because their parents are scared they would destroy everything on their home computer. A number of assumptions were reached after data was collected through interviews of each child, observations, and the Fast ForWord program online data tracker. There are two different sections within the Fast ForWord program: Language Basics and Reading Readiness. There are a total of twenty students participating in the Fast ForWord program. As of the last data collection point, 15% of the students have completed the entire program, 40% of the students are still on Language Basics (1st stage), and 45% percent of the students are on the Reading Readiness section (last stage). The Language Basics section has three games to complete. Of the 20 students participating in the program, 100% of the students have completed “Inside the Tummy” (1st game in Language Basics, focuses on computer mouse skills, color, shape, and size), 80% of the students have completed “Flying Saucer” (2nd game in Language Basics, focuses on listening accuracy), and 70% have completed “Drag Racer” (3rd game in Language Basics, focuses on auditory attention). Of the 20 students participating in the program, 60% have completed the Language Basics sections and are on the Reading Readiness section. The Reading Readiness section has 6 games to complete. Of the twelve students who are on the Reading Readiness section, 100% have completed “Inside the Tummy” (1st game in Reading Readiness, focuses on computer mouse skills, color, shape, and size), 100% have completed “Hungry Tummy” (2nd game in Reading Readiness, focuses on following directions), 75% have completed “Packing Pig Goes to Work” (3rd game in Reading Readiness, focuses on letter names), 66.7% have completed “Packing Pig Has Lunch” (4th game in Reading Readiness, focuses on letter names and working memory), 66.7% have completed “Coaster” (5th game in Reading Readiness, focuses on letter sounds), and 0% have completed “Houndini” (6th game in Reading Readiness, focuses on Phonemic Awareness). Each student was asked a yes or no question as to whether they enjoyed the program or not, 80% of the students responded yes and twenty percent responded no; all students who responded no are still working on the Language Basics section of the program. This answer is to be expected from students who are struggling through the program or students who are bored or do not like being on a computer. Some of the reasons given for an answer of no were; “it’s too hard,” “I’d rather play in centers,” or “I’d rather play outside.” On the other hand, the children who responded yes are the children who are farthest along in the program. Some of their reasons for saying yes are; “it’s really cool” and “I like being on a computer.” Interpretation of Evaluation Findings Fast ForWord is a remarkable program that has turned a classroom upside down in a positive way. Children that had little interest in the computer now love playing games during their free time. The students will go on to kindergarten knowing exactly how to use a computer and the mouse. They will also be extremely familiar with their letters, numbers, etc. due to the games they have played and the teacher reinforcing these concepts in the preschool classroom. Conclusions and Recommendations Conclusion After a thorough review of the evaluation of the Fast ForWord program, stakeholder views, and program expenses, this evaluation has determined strengths and weaknesses of the Fast ForWord program. Program Strengths • • • • • Children enjoy working with technology even when not working in the Fast ForWord program. Increases computer and mouse skills. Increases knowledge of color, size, shape, letter name, and letter sound. Increases auditory attention, listening accuracy, and the ability to follow oral directions. Increases working memory and phonemic awareness. Program Weaknesses • Children sometimes become bored with the games during the 30 minute session. • • Teachers must constantly monitor students the games do not properly explain to the students how each should be played. The program does not indicate success to the student. Recommendations While the Fast ForWord Program improves basic skills for preschool students, to justify continuation of the program, the following will need to be considered: • 25% of students revealed they do not like or enjoy Fast ForWord and believes school would be better without Fast ForWord. The teachers should re-evaluate how children are encouraged and find other incentives to go along with their current method. The teacher and assistant teacher revealed there is not enough time in the day to adequately help students like they need to be helped. Teachers feel the program is worthy of keeping because students have shown improvement, but students may be able to improve in more areas at higher rates if time were not an issue. Over the summer, teachers may re-evaluate the current schedule and implement one that will better accommodate all. Teachers feel they did not receive sufficient training before implementing the program in the classroom. Therefore, proper and full training will need to be implemented before beginning the program with another group of students. • • Therefore, it is the recommendation of the evaluation study that the impact of the Fast ForWord program continue to be part of the requirements for students in the preschool classroom. Appendix A Teacher Interview 1. How long do students participate in the Fast ForWord Program daily? - 30 minutes 2. What is the protocol for students that are absent? - If a student is absent they pick up where they left off when they return to school. 3. Are all students interested in the program? - No. To encourage participation we give them skittles at the end of the session (which is fairly standard in all of the surrounding schools). Adults need encouragement/rewards and so do children. 4. How do you monitor goals met, participation, etc.? -Through the online progress tracker. Every teacher is given access to this when they register their class. 5. Do you like Fast ForWord? -Yes and no. We [teacher and assistant teacher] did not receive adequate training on the program and have had to learn as we go. However, the program does do all of the things it says and the children meet their goals and move on to different levels of that goal (in other words the game becomes more challenging). We have seen a great increase in children meeting the objectives used for Fast ForWord not only on the computer but in the classroom also. Appendix B Student Polling Questions and Answers 1. Do you like Fast ForWord computer games? Answers: 15 said yes, 5 said no 2. For those that said yes, why do you like the games? -They are fun -Because we get skittles -Because it makes our teacher and mommy and daddy happy -I love computer games 3. For those that said no, why do you not like the games? -They are too hard -They are boring -I want to play outside -I want to play in centers