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Language-processing software debuts in fall

August 08, 2002|by Liz Boch

lizb@herald-mail.com

In keeping with a continuing effort to help children acquire reading skills, the Greencastle-Antrim School District will begin using new language-processing software in September, according to Superintendent P. Duff Rearick.

Called Fast ForWord, the CD-ROM application identifies children in need of reading assistance, Rearick said. Second-graders at Greencastle-Antrim Primary School will pilot the program.

"If a kid can read by third grade, you're in business," Rearick said.

About 20 children will use the program two hours each day for eight to 11 weeks. The school is identifying children for inclusion in the program based on their first-grade performance.

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"It remaps the brain," said Mary Frey, principal of Greencastle-Antrim Primary School. "It's really taking kids back to the sounds of language. They learn, for example, the word 'baseball' in print has two syllables when you say it."

Frey said that once they have completed the program, the children will begin reading classes tailored to their needs as identified by the software.

Rearick said if Fast ForWord brings positive results, it may be expanded into middle and high schools.

"It's an experimental program," he said. "If we can do a better job getting kids to read, that's the name of the game."

The school district also is installing 125 laptop computers at Greencastle-Antrim High School to expand technology and target children with low state testing scores, Rearick said.

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