In fifth grade, LD students begin using Kurzweil 3000. The OCR software scans documents and reads scanned or electronic text aloud using synthetic speech. This combination of auditory and visual presentation (students see the words highlighted on the screen as they are spoken) helps struggling students with reading accuracy, speed, and comprehension.
The program also provides students with test-taking assistance, a requirement that's frequently written into LD students' IEPs. Kurzweil reads test questions aloud and allows students who require visual and auditory accommodations to type answers directly onto the image of a scanned test.
Kurzweil 3000 is installed on a computer that's located in the back of every classroom. There's a bank of four to five Kurzweil 3000 computers in the study hall and another seven in the commons area that students use for independent or guided practice, for projects, or to complete homework and other assignments.
Riverside uses a curriculum developed in Wisconsin that teaches kids how to navigate the programs and advocate for their use. "Students gain independence very quickly because of the way we teach them to use Kurzweil 3000," says Rachow. "They like to feel empowered and independent from their paraeducator. Perhaps most important, they like to feel like other kids in their classroom."