HELENA – The Office of Public Instruction is proud to enter the second phase of its partnership with the Montana Head Start Association and Waterford.org that began in 2018 when Superintendent Arntzen brought Waterford.org into Montana to implement the Upstart pilot program. The program aims to provide developmentally appropriate curricular resources and digital access to adaptive software programs to prepare and ready four-year old children to enter Kindergarten at or above the normal level of skill-readiness in literacy and mathematics, and science. Upstart is funded by the federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant awarded to Waterford.org and it is driving family engagement and parent encouragement in early childhood learning through at-home parent-and-child learning activities. Funding under the grant includes individual family coaching, computers, an effective reading application, and Internet service at no cost to the families. The learning taking place among Montana’s youth in Upstart is specifically aligned to the Montana Early Learning Standards, which define the knowledge, concepts, and skills students need to gain for their success and which have been developed by the OPI’s Early Learning Unit.
“Digital learning is a great tool that supports strong family engagement and school readiness for our young learners. We are seeing extraordinary results through Montana’s collaboration with the Waterford Upstart grant program,” said Superintendent Arntzen. “Thank you to our Montana families that have embraced this school readiness digital tool. This public-private partnership is what makes Montana a leader in providing flexibility in digital educational services for young children and families in rural Montana.”
The Waterford Upstart program will be provided to at least 600 Montana students over a two-year period. In the first year of the program, 250 pre-school aged children and families participated in the program with 77% from rural areas and 23% from non-rural areas in Montana, and 11% of the total number of participants were from tribal communities. By then end of its second year of implementation, it is expected that the total number of children-family participants will be 600 from across Montana. This strong public-private partnership with Waterford.org creates learning opportunities while building access to Kindergarten and beyond.
Dr. Greg Dern, Communications Director, 406-444-3449