by Karen Meaney
November 8, 2018
The Waterford Institute has been awarded a five-year, $14.2 million grant to launch Waterford UPSTART pilot programs in Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana, affording children in each of these states complimentary access to the Institute’s kindergarten readiness program. The award is an Education Innovation and Research Expansion Grant from the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement.
Waterford’s chief Upstart officer Claudia Miner said Upstart is working to increase access to early learning with its home-based kindergarten readiness program because 2.2 million four-year-olds are not being served.
Designed to help 4- and 5-year-old children prepare for kindergarten, Waterford UPSTART offers an online curriculum including more than 2,500 lessons, with 360 digital books, 330 animated songs, and more than 450 instructional hours. The kindergarten readiness program uses a parent support model that coaches parents to use the software and to work on offline activities with their children.
Miner said the software is not an app, but sequenced instruction covering reading, math and science, with reading being the primary focus. Students who need additional drills are directed to that, other students may get advanced work for a challenge.
While the Upstart model is home-based, Upstart is working on a pilot with Head Start where children would attend Head Start facilities during the day and then do additional work on Upstart to address concerns that have been raised about cognitive gains with Head Start and to increase parent involvement.
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