North Dakota does not fund preschool, but the state’s superintendent of public instruction is working with her team to kickstart a kindergarten readiness program called Waterford UPSTART, which provides computers and broadband connection to rural families at no cost to them.
The program provides students with 15-minute instruction five days a week that must be administered by a family member. This limits device time to a healthy amount, while also preparing students for school in developing basic reading, writing and technology skills.
The goal of the program is to prevent rural children age 0 to 5 from feeling isolated by providing them with the same opportunities as children who live in larger districts. Also, by covering the costs of the technology and broadband access, lower income students will not be disadvantaged.
The pilot program will start by providing these services to 400 schools, but the state is looking to expand the program with time by bringing the issue to state legislators. However, the program plans to start with students in childcare centers, child nutrition programs, and meal programs to start with the students who need this access most.
According to Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota spends billions of dollars on credit recovery and remediation, so investing in providing students with a strong start before entering kindergarten could cut the cost of recovery and support future academic success.
Read the full story here: How rural North Dakota scales online early learning.
For further resources about online learning, click here.