Adaptive reading and language program Fast ForWord delivers reading gains for struggling readers

App of the Week

Fast ForWord is an evidence-based, adaptive reading and language program that delivers up to one to two years gain in 40 to 60 hours of use for struggling learners. Its unique brain-based approach targets the root causes of reading difficulty to deliver lasting results that make better readers and lifelong learners.

Fast ForWord is a two-in-one reading and brain training program. It improves reading skills by targeting the cognitive skills that are core to reading such as memory, attention, processing, and sequencing. It provides more personalized, intensive practice than other approaches, and it helps students develop reading skills including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, grammar, fluency, and comprehension. It is also the only reading program with a virtual personal reading tutor. As students read aloud, the program listens and provides real-time corrective feedback. This real-world reading reinforces newly learned skills and rapidly builds fluency and comprehension.

Over 3 million students and 15,000 schools have used Fast ForWord. More than 300 research studies have been conducted that demonstrate the effectiveness and highlight the success of the program. It is one of the only reading interventions with neuroscience research that has been and continues to be published in peer-reviewed journals.


Formats/platforms used:

OS: Windows, Mac, Chrome (no touchscreen), iPad

Browser: Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari


Primary website’s URL:


Problem solved:

Research shows that students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are more likely to leave school without a diploma than those who are proficient readers. Poverty intensifies the problem. This has far-reaching consequences because more than half of students in U.S. public schools are from low-income families. Research shows that students impacted by poverty and trauma have disproportionately weak cognitive skills like working memory, attention, and processing skills, which are indispensable to reading.

The Fast ForWord reading and language program targets these skills to enable children to catch up to grade level in reading and stay caught up. The program works because it starts with the brain. It uses the science of learning to help students develop their reading brain for lasting gains.

District and school leaders and teachers say that the Fast ForWord program develops better thinkers, better readers, and more confident, engaged learners, and that it helps students improve their performance on state and standardized assessments. In addition, students continue learning growth even after the program is completed.


Grade or age range:




Supplemental and special needs:

Fast ForWord is a supplemental, evidence-based reading and language program. It provides skill-building exercises that personalize to K-5 learners and fill in reading gaps for learners in grades 6-12. It has been proven effective for struggling readers, students with dyslexia, English language learners, Title I students, and students with disabilities including specific learning disability, auditory processing disorders, specific language impairment, and autism spectrum disorder.



The Fast ForWord program addresses all five domains of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.


Lesson time required:

The Fast ForWord program has flexible implementation options:

  • 3 to 5 days per week
  • 30, 40, 50, or 90 minutes per day


Pricing model:

Licensing options include per-student or unlimited use site licensing; annual subscription or perpetual licensing; and volume and multi-year discounting.


Additional services:

Included in the Fast ForWord annual subscription product licenses are student progress reports and Reading Progress Indicator, MySciLEARN e-learning courses, and technical and instructional support.

Scientific Learning also offers optional training and services, including onsite product training and professional development, onsite technical consulting, Fast ForWord web-based product training, consultation with progress monitors, and remote technical consulting.



What makes Fast ForWord unique?

The Fast ForWord program provides an effective reading and language program for K-12 learners with reading or learning difficulties. Its patented brain-based technology addresses foundational cognitive skills that are essential to reading, academic success, and executive function. It develops a wide range of reading skills and provides more personalized, intensive practice than other approaches. It is also the only program that uses speech verification to “listen” to students as they read aloud, like a guided reading coach personalized for every student.

Fast ForWord is the most extensively researched and reviewed program on the market. More than 300 research studies have been conducted that demonstrate the effectiveness and highlight the success of the Fast ForWord suite of products. The Fast ForWord program has the most ESSA-compliant research of any reading intervention evaluated. It has 21 studies that meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards for Adolescent Literacy, Beginning Reading, and English Language Development. Compared to other interventions evaluated by WWC, it is the only intervention with positive effects for English Learner and Literacy Outcomes for students in grades K-10 in individual, small group, and whole class settings.



SmartLearning Technology is the back-end engine that powers the Fast ForWord program. SmartLearning Technology adapts to every learner’s individual areas of need in real-time. With this intelligent system, the Fast ForWord program knows when a student is struggling and provides real-time instruction as soon as a student needs it. It also includes an array of progress indicators and a student-facing report called the Success Viewer — with measures such as highest streak, today’s points, current points, and percent completion — to keep students motivated.




Here's what users are saying:

“We’ve implemented a number of online programs over the last 20 years, and we have found the Fast ForWord program to be the most successful program for our students.”

— Ken Haggart, Superintendent of Schools, Michigan


“The Fast ForWord program is probably the most effective product I have come across in my 36 years of public-school work. As we’ve seen with our students’ results, it’s well worth the investment and I consider us fortunate to have the Fast ForWord program in our school.”

— Bobby Simma, Principal, Perkins-Tryon Elementary School, Oklahoma


“We see the Fast ForWord program as a key component of our efforts to address Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee. We’re getting a great return on our investment in terms of the number of students who are now passing the third-grade test.”

— Dr. Michael D. Sander, Superintendent, Franklin City Schools, Ohio

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