Education Funding Reinstated During Special Session of Utah State Legislature Allowing Approximately 15 Percent of Utah’s 4-Year-Olds to Participate in UPSTART

Roughly 7,800 children enroll in next school year’s kindergarten
readiness program

SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a special session, the Utah State Legislature passed SB2001 Tuesday
reinstating funds for UPSTART previously allocated in March, but vetoed
by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

Because of UPSTART’s
success in preparing Utah’s 4-year-olds for school, the Utah State
Legislature in March increased the amount of funding for the program,
making the program available to roughly 7,800 enrollees, or
approximately 15 percent of Utah’s 4-year-olds. Two weeks later,
Governor Herbert vetoed the increase. A special session was later called
and held with almost unanimous support of the program expansion.
Governor Herbert signed SB2001 into law.

The Legislature’s action follows last year’s move of providing a
one-time increase to the previously approved funding for UPSTART, and
doubles last year’s amount, allowing more children across the state to
participate.

“We’re very pleased the Utah State Legislature is committed to expanding
UPSTART to children and parents throughout the state,” said Claudia
Miner, Vice President of development for the nonprofit Waterford
Institute
. “This will help us serve a total of about 7,800
4-year-olds and help prepare them for school and a successful academic
career.”

UPSTART uses Waterford Early Learning, a cloud-based adaptive learning
curriculum to provide preschool-age children lessons in early literacy,
math and science while at home. Now in its seventh year in Utah, UPSTART
is funded by the Utah State Legislature and free for participating
families.

Independent evaluations commissioned by the Utah State Office of
Education show UPSTART children have significantly higher average
literacy growth rates on two standardized tests for early literacy than
children who did not use UPSTART: Brigance and Bader assessments.

“The UPSTART program shows continued success at helping preschool-age
children develop literacy skills and prepare for school,” the evaluators
from the Evaluation and Training Institute of California wrote in their
most recent report.

Another report,
released April 14 and prepared by the Utah State Office of Education,
says children who used UPSTART prior to kindergarten saw immediate
positive gains and still outperformed state averages on standardized
tests in grades first through fourth across language arts, math and
science. According to the same data findings, children who are English
language learners, Special Education or at-risk see the greatest gains
and maintain them year over year.

More than 19,000 Utah children have participated in UPSTART since it
began receiving state funding seven years ago. UPSTART has since grown
significantly, reducing the cost per child and allowing more families to
participate.

UPSTART is open to everyone, but prioritizes low-income families, as
well as English language learners. The number of Spanish-speaking
UPSTART participants tripled last spring thanks in part to the
endorsement and support of the Mexican Consulate for Utah and Wyoming.
With the additional funding from the state, Waterford hopes to increase
the number of Spanish-speaking families again for this fall, as well as
low-income families.

Qualifying families receive use of a free computer and free Internet
during the program if they do not have access to these resources at home.

Families can pre-register now for UPSTART at www.utahupstart.org
or by phone at 800-669-4533.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the 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, visit www.waterford.org
or call 801-349-2200.

Contacts

SnappConner PR
Cory Maloy, 801-301-7900
cory@snappconner.com