Pre-school students in eight classrooms in Lancaster County, Virginia showed excellent growth in pre-literacy skills through the BrightStart! Early Literacy Project during the 2016-17 school year. Those strong results have prompted expansion of the program to two additional school districts with support of an $88,750 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in the Northern Neck public schools in Lancaster, Middlesex and Westmoreland counties will have access to the BrightStart! program in the 2017-18 school year with the help of the grant made by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund trustees to The Nemours Foundation. BrightStart! is a program of The Nemours Foundation, which operates children’s clinics at multiple locations in the eastern United States.
“BrightStart! is proving that it can help to close the academic gap that already exists in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children and reduce the pervasive, long-term negative impacts of reading failure,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “We are pleased that school superintendents in the Northern Neck are willing to bring this program to their students and happy to support their efforts.”
BrightStart! frequently is implemented in networks of child-care centers but in 2016, officials in Lancaster County public schools chose to employ BrightStart! in eight Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms. BrightStart! screened 129 children for early literacy skills – the skills necessary to enable them to learn to read. Scores for 22% of the children fell below the benchmark of 90, indicating they were candidates for BrightStart! instruction.
After receiving the BrightStart! training, all of the children scored above the benchmark and in line with their peers.
In March 2017, officials from Middlesex and Westmoreland county public schools met with representatives of Lancaster public schools and BrightStart! to learn about the program and its benefits. Following that meeting, Middlesex and Westmoreland officials decided to join the program. In the 2017-18 school year, BrightStart! will be available in 27 classrooms across the three counties.
“Nemours BrightStart! has hope and high expectations for all children and results that support those beliefs,” said Kathy Ingram, Director, Business Development & Community Engagement for Nemours BrightStart!. “We believe all children can learn and that the school districts participating in this program can achieve these same results.”