Some 60 children and their families celebrated as the youngsters graduated from the computer based UPSTART program in Richfield over the weekend.
A free in-home preschool program, UPSTART officially completed its first full year in Sevier School District as the youths took part in their final progress evaluations at the Sevier Valley Center prior to participating in their graduation ceremony Saturday.
The program, Utah Preparing Students Today for a Rewarding Tomorrow, is designed to help prepare children for kindergarten, according to Laura Williams, district liaison.
Developed by Waterford Institute, the curriculum includes reading, math and science, wherein students participate for 15 minutes each day, five days per week.
UPSTART is described as an adaptive learning program, which teaches essential literacy skills at the pace and level of each individual child.
Assessments indicate that children who participate in the program enter school, on average, at a kindergarten advanced reading level, and have two to three times higher academic growth rates than children who are not involved in UPSTART, according to program organizers.
Participating families may be eligible for the use of a free Chromebook and Internet during the program if they do not have access to these resources at home, Williams said.
Cade Douglas, Sevier School District superintendent, said that he sees the program as not a replacement or substitute for other educational opportunities, but instead as a combination to complement other avenues — be it preschool, Head Start, private or district.
Douglas, who expressed his support for the program, said that he hopes to see enrollment in UPSTART increase this year.
Registration is now under way for children who will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2016.
Deadline is Tuesday, Sept. 1.
To register or for more information, call (800) 669-4533, or log onto utahupstart.org.