|By PR Newswire||
|March 27, 2014 06:15 AM EDT||
SALT LAKE CITY, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands more young Utah children will have access to preschool after the Utah Legislature expanded UPSTART, a computer-based, in-home preschool program.
Legislators approved a five-year extension for UPSTART and expanded the program's funding to include about 5,000 children annually – more than three times UPSTART's previous annual headcount of about 1,500 children. The additional funding and extension starts late summer to kick off the 2014-15 preschool year.
UPSTART is a free in-home preschool program that provides reading, math and science curriculum from Waterford Institute, a Sandy-based nonprofit research center and curriculum developer. The adaptive program teaches essential early literacy skills at the pace and level of each individual child, and its native-language user support team partners with parents to prepare children for kindergarten.
More than 7,000 Utah children have already participated in UPSTART since it began receiving state funding five years ago. Now, with the additional state funding, the program will expand to serve approximately 25,000 children in its next five years. Waterford Institute was also awarded an $11.5 million federal grant in January that will expand UPSTART specifically to 18 rural Utah school districts.
Independent assessments show children who participate in UPSTART enter school already above kindergarten level, and score two and three times higher academic growth rates than children who are not on UPSTART, a significant gain in preparing young learners for kindergarten.
"We applaud the Utah Legislature for investing in early learning and supporting UPSTART as one of the programs that prepare children for kindergarten," said Dr. Benjamin Heuston, president of Waterford Institute. "The additional funding allows us to keep up with the growing demand for the free program, which has a 99 percent approval rating from parents."
Utah families have already felt UPSTART's value, including West Jordan's Vivien Van Leeuwen and her children.
"When our older son finished using [UPSTART] his scores ranged between advanced kindergarten and intermediate first grade across all categories, and that was before he even started kindergarten," said Van Leeuwen. "I think it not only prepared him for kindergarten and beyond, but for life."
Families interested in applying for UPSTART can register at www.utahupstart.org, or call 800-960-4002 if they do not have access to a computer. The next UPSTART program begins in July.
UPSTART is open to everyone, but prioritizes lower socioeconomic status (SES) children as well as English language learners (ELL) as part of an effort to bring equity to education and give all children a chance to succeed in learning, regardless of their economic standing or primary language. Some participants may qualify for the use of a free computer and Internet.
Waterford Institute is a nonprofit research center that creates personalized cloud-based instruction through award-winning curriculum, content and assessment for children aged Pre-K to 2nd grade. As a nonprofit, Waterford is uniquely focused on providing accessibility, equity and excellence for our youngest learners to position them for a lifetime of learning and success. For more information, visitwww.waterford.org or call 801-349-2200.
SOURCE Waterford Institute