Fourth graders who used Scientific Learning Corp.’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant software improved their LEAP test scores in English language arts, math, science, and social studies, according to a five-year longitudinal study. The district also improved its eighth grade LEAP scores, increased its fourth grade promotion rates, reduced the number of students requiring special education services, and narrowed the achievement gap.

“In five years, our fourth grade students have made remarkable gains, outpacing their state counterparts in English language arts as well as math and science,” said Superintendent Donald W. Aguillard in a press release. “Fewer fourth graders are struggling below grade level, and more students are meeting promotional standards than ever before. Across the curriculum, students are clearly benefitting from our continuing efforts to help them improve their reading and learning ability through the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs.”

Adaptive Curriculum, meanwhile, promoted an Arizona State University study revealing that “deep conceptual learning methods” can help students meet more rigorous math and science standards, such as those found in the Common Core standards. These deep conceptual methods include discovery learning, multiple representations, analogies, and challenge-based learning.

New English/language arts programs

Empowering Writers announced the release of its newest resources, The Essential Guides to Writing, for grades 2-5. The guides cover Common Core requirements and use a month-to-month format to address the standards-based teaching of writing skills in a practical, manageable way, the company said.

EPS, the literacy and intervention division of School Specialty, unveiled a new blended learning solution, called MCI, that provides literacy intervention for struggling readers in middle school and beyond. MCI, short for “Making Connections Intervention,” combines teacher-led, face-to-face instruction with individualized online instruction to maximize the depth, intensity, and effectiveness of the intervention, according to School Specialty.

iParadigms demonstrated its new automated translation technology that enables Turnitin, the company’s plagiarism detection service, to identify potentially plagiarized content that has been translated from other languages. With the introduction of multilingual translation technology, Turnitin is able to take assignments written in a variety of non-English languages, translate them into English, compare them to Turnitin’s content databases, and highlight any matches found in the assignment, the company said.

MindPlay has announced a new curriculum product for teaching K-12 reading, called MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach (MVRC). MVRC is designed to help students improve their reading skills in 30 hours or less by differentiating instruction for each student. The program is delivered over the internet and helps teachers by providing virtual human reading specialists and speech pathologists.

PCI Education, a provider of resources for students with special instructional needs, announced the launch of PCI Reading Program-Level Three Software, a new online component to its PCI Reading Program, a reading series for students with intellectual disabilities. Designed to complement the print edition of Level Three, Level Three Software delivers interactive lessons to help students master decoding through a suite of engaging virtual games. The online, subscription-based software covers the same concepts presented in print and focuses on building phonemic awareness and phonic skills.

Other instructional technology news

Archipelago Learning introduced new enhancements for Study Island, a web-based instruction, practice, and learning program. New features include virtual science labs for middle and high school students, embedded Khan Academy videos, and a district dashboard for administrators.