Software bridges the education gap
MILWAUKEE – In an effort to close the achievement gap now and at an early age, the state is providing funding to a nonprofit education organization to help with equity and access that contributes to the growing problem .
With the potentially lasting effects of learning during the coronavirus pandemic, there is a plan to catch up with those who may be falling behind.
While many school districts started the school year by connecting remotely, a critical group was missing.
“You’ve seen 1% to 5% of students out of school in any way,” said Kim Fischer. “With Pre-K, that number was 22%.”
Fischer said the last year really affected young learners. As a spokesperson for Waterford.org, a nonprofit organization that lays the foundation for literacy, the focus is on closing the achievement gap.
“We’re bringing our preschool education solution home, and we’re partnering with parents to become their child’s first teacher, so kids get adaptive software to use five days a week for 15 minutes a day, and then we let’s give parents the tools they need to engage with their child offline, ”said Fischer.
The program targets six districts with persistent reading deficits, including Milwaukee Public Schools and the Racine Unified School District.
“The Waterford UPSTART program is a great opportunity for them,” said Amy Shepherd.
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Shepherd said RUSD has participated in the pilot program and has seen promising results.
“In the first 11 weeks of school, about 71% of our students had mastered their early reading skills by age, so that alone was amazing to see,” Shepherd said.
Coaches guide students in their native language along adaptive and individualized learning paths towards fluent reading and lifelong learning.
“The UPSTART program also provides a socio-emotional learning model for the family. Social and emotional learning is critically important in early childhood, ”Shepherd said.
It is an effort to provide a solid foundation for preparing children for kindergarten and beyond.
“It’s a lifeline for your child, and it’s a great way to start their education,” Fischer said.
The Waterford UPSTART program is free for low-income families with 4-year-olds in six districts of the state. Software is provided and eligible families will also receive a computer and Internet access at no cost.
Registrations are open but places are limited.