The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is continually seeking effective ways to support educators as they work to help English language learners (ELLs) develop academic English fluency. Toward that end, the ADE, in cooperation with the Arizona State Board of Education, has embarked on an innovative, two-year pilot program to bring a technology-based language development and literacy intervention to ELLs in grades K-6.
Following a competitive bidding and review process, the State Board of Education has chosen to partner with Scientific Learning Corp. to implement the neuroscience-designed Build English Fast™ solution for this project to help ELLs accelerate their English language acquisition, and make fast and lasting gains in their language and reading skills.
Approximately 70,000 of Arizona’s K-12 students are ELLs. On the 2015 AzMERIT statewide benchmark exam, only 2 percent of ELLs passed the language arts section, and 6 percent passed the math section of the exam.
“The needs of ELLs in Arizona are always at the forefront,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. “Our goals with this pilot program are to help ELLs develop English language proficiency as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to ensure our ELLs have the opportunity to excel in their educational careers.”
The pilot program will include approximately 4,000 students classified as ELLs in kindergarten through sixth grade in schools and districts across the state. Teacher training will begin in August and students will begin using the Build English Fast solution this fall.
Build English Fast is a combination of Fast ForWord®, an intervention for English language development on What Works Clearinghouse™, and Reading Assistant™, which uses speech recognition technology to listen to and support ELLs as they read aloud. Using the principles of neuroplasticity, Build English Fast is the only intervention that addresses three critical steps for English language proficiency. First, it prepares the brain to “hear” the sounds of English. Second, it provides individualized, intensive practice in English vocabulary, grammar and reading skills. Third, its uses advanced speech recognition technology to give students the opportunity to practice speaking and reading aloud, while receiving real-time corrective feedback.
“Build English Fast met all of the requirements for our pilot program, including providing individualized, adaptive instruction in the five strands of literacy; integrated assessment; and alignment with Arizona’s academic and English language proficiency standards,” said Kelly Koenig, deputy associate superintendent with the ADE Office of English Language Acquisition Services. “We’re very excited about the opportunity the Arizona State Legislature has given us to provide our ELL students with an innovative way to develop, apply and practice language and literacy skills.”