New Study Suggests All Utah Preschoolers Should Use Waterford UPSTART


Independent, third-party study shows Waterford UPSTART graduates ready for kindergarten

October 8, 2020 (Salt Lake City, UT) – Today announced the findings of the most recent Utah High-Quality School Readiness Expansion (HQSR-E) Program Evaluation, which recommends Waterford UPSTART, Utah’s in-home early education program, be implemented in all public and private high-quality preschool programs in the state where possible.

“We are truly honored to have partnered with the Utah State Board of Education and the Utah State Legislature to bring the Waterford UPSTART program to Utah families 12 years running,” said Claudia Miner, Waterford UPSTART executive director. “What this independent, third-party study shows us is that the Waterford UPSTART program, whether done in the home with parent support or in partnership with a traditional high-quality preschool, helps children develop the literacy and social-emotional skills necessary for school success and continued academic achievement.”

The 2018-2019 HQSR-E study is the third year of the preschool program evaluation, which the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) hired Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI) to conduct. The purpose was to determine the impacts of the three high-quality preschool implementation models—public, private and Waterford UPSTART—on children’s school readiness.

According to the study, Waterford UPSTART graduates had higher overall literacy test scores than the comparison children studied. Specifically, Waterford UPSTART students had, “significantly higher scores on subtests that measured letter knowledge and phonological awareness.”

Not only that, the study showed that these literacy gains continued on in kindergarten and through the first grade. The study reads: “The first grade analyses suggested that UPSTART may have had an extended impact on students’ learning through first grade. Students who used UPSTART in 2016-2017 had higher Acadience Reading test scores throughout kindergarten as well as a higher percentage of students with scores that fell within the At or Above benchmark range compared to a group of students with similar demographics.”

The study makes this recommendation: “We also recommend implementing the UPSTART program in public and private HQSR-E program sites where possible. Traditional high-quality preschool offers a three- dimensional social landscape, but our results show that it does not have the same positive impacts on specific literacy skills that the UPSTART program does. A hybrid high-quality preschool model that combines an adaptive, computer-based learning program with a traditional classroom-based preschool, including all the peer and adult social experiences, could give Utah families the full spectrum of benefits.”

Waterford UPSTART was created in the State of Utah in 2009 as an in-home, early education program designed to help 4-year-old children get ready for kindergarten. In its first year, using funding designated by the Utah State Legislature, Waterford UPSTART served close to 1,650 4-year-olds. This year, Waterford UPSTART is looking to serve more than 21,000, or about 40% of the state’s 4-year-olds, in the year before they enter kindergarten.

The Waterford UPSTART program provides positive parent-child interactions while delivering personalized, online instruction 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Parents are given the tools they need to become their child’s first and most influential teacher, including a parent coach, computer and internet access at no cost. The average Waterford UPSTART graduate enters kindergarten reading at a nearly first-grade level.

You can find the full 2018-2019 HQSR-E report here.

Waterford UPSTART is still enrolling in Utah. Click here for more information. is an early education nonprofit with a mission to achieve universal literacy for children through equity, access, and parent empowerment. Waterford develops educational tools that guide students along adaptive, individualized learning paths toward fluent reading and lifelong learning. We empower parents as a child’s first teacher, and we support teachers in taking the right actions at the right time for their students. In total, serves more than 300,000 children every year through all of our programs, and that number is continually growing.

Waterford UPSTART

Waterford UPSTART helps four-year-old children prepare for school at home and at no cost. Children develop foundational reading and social-emotional skills, and parents are empowered to become their child’s first and most influential teachers. The children use adaptive software just 15 minutes a day, five days a week in the year before they start school. Waterford UPSTART also fuels family involvement in their child’s early education through parent coaches and fun educational activities parents can complete with their children offline. Waterford UPSTART has been rigorously tested and proven, earning the program a federal EIR grant and the title of a TED Audacious project. Independent research shows the average Waterford UPSTART graduate enters kindergarten reading at nearly a first-grade level and maintains those gains through the fourth grade.


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