UTAH UPSTART PROGRAM
In 2009, Waterford Institute and the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) launched the UPSTART Utah program in partnership with the Utah State Legislature. Each year since, the program has received successful external evaluations, and in recent years has grown to serve nearly 15,000 children annually throughout Utah—roughly 30 percent of the state’s four-year-olds.
THE PROGRAM’S RESULTS ARE MEASURED USING FOUR METRICS:
Childrens’ weekly usage of the program
Pre-program baseline and a post-program evaluation, using Waterford Assessment of Core Skills (WACS)
External evaluation of the program, using a treatment and control model
Parent feedback on the program
UPSTART AIMS FOR
MINUTES OF WEEKLY USAGE
MINUTES A DAY,
DAYS A WEEK
WEEKLY AVERAGE USAGE, 2013-14: 105 MINUTES
This is less than 1% of a child’s day and significantly less than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended screen time of less than two hours per day.
WATERFORD ASSESSMENT OF CORE SKILLS (WACS)
Data shows that all UPSTART children make important cognitive gains—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographic locale and whether or not they had additional preschool. WACS shows UPSTART children score, on average, at the “kindergarten-advanced” level, meaning UPSTART children enter kindergarten at the level most of their peers finish kindergarten.
Annual external evaluations conducted by the Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI) consistently find that UPSTART children showed significantly stronger learning rates on two well-known tests compared to children in a control group.
An independent evaluation by the Utah State Office of Education shows children who participated in UPSTART the year before kindergarten saw immediate positive gains and were still outperforming state averages on standardized tests in grades first through fourth.
*Total possible scores in 2016 were lower than previous years because of a testing scale change.
NEW PILOT PROGRAMS
Waterford has launched a number of pilot programs in other states. The goal of these pilots is to research the effectiveness of UPSTART on preparing children in these states for kindergarten.
Preschoolers will use UPSTART at home for 15 – 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
Waterford will provide participating families with the learning software, and ongoing training and support.
Children are assessed to provide data on program efficacy.
Qualifying families will receive a loaned computer and Internet service during the program.
REACHING RURAL COMMUNITIES
UPSTART addresses the challenge of delivering equitable kindergarten readiness programs to rural areas. In 2013, Waterford was awarded an $11.5 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant by the U.S. Dept. of Education to expand UPSTART to rural children in Utah.
The five-year study will demonstrate the program's effectiveness in:
preparing children for school
addressing summer slide
working directly with 18 rural school districts
i3 is highly competitive and designed to expand innovative educational practices that improve student achievement. Waterford was one of just 25 grant winners selected from 618 applicants, and the only early childhood program to receive an i3 award in 2013.
“UPSTART is a game changer for any school, district or state trying to improve education outcomes and close early learning gaps… while keeping costs low and reaching children most in need.”
— SENATOR HOWARD STEPHENSON, UTAH STATE SENATE
"I was initially worried about the support given to Spanish-speaking parents. But the support UPSTART offers parents is really great. The support team is knowledgeable, easy to reach and there is always help in Spanish.”
— ALTAGRACIA GARCIA, UPSTART PARENT
"I would recommend UPSTART to anyone. UPSTART prepares kids so much that kindergarten can be a refresher for them."
— MAGGIE FARABEE, UPSTART PARENT