Northern Neck Pre-Schoolers Get Pre-Literacy Screenings

Students in eight pre-school classrooms in the Northern Neck of Virginia will participate in the Nemours BrightStart! program in the 2014-2015 school year, giving them a significant boost in reading readiness as they prepare to enter kindergarten.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund will support the program with a grant of $18,300, approved by the trustees at their third quarter meeting. The Nettie Lokey Wiley and Charles L. Wiley Foundation, based in Irvington, Virginia, also will provide support for the program.

The BrightStart! program screens very young children for pre-literacy skills and identifies those who may be at-risk for reading failure. It then provides an intensive intervention program for those at-risk students, improving their preparedness for kindergarten and primary grade reading.

According to BrightStart!, “evidence is overwhelming that the foundation for successful reading is built in the early years. In fact, if a child is not reading at grade level by the end of first grade, that child has only about a 10 percent chance of reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade.”

BrightStart! focuses on training pre-school staff to administer the screening and deliver the intervention program. It also works with parents to teach at-home activities that can support the gains the students are making at school.

BrightStart!’s success has been documented in peer-reviewed presentations and scientific/academic journals. Results show that:

  • Two-thirds of participating at-risk children who have received the Nemours BrightStart! educational instruction have moved to the typical range in their reading readiness skills.
  • At-risk pre-kindergarteners completing the Nemours BrightStart! intensive educational instruction gain an average of 114 percent on their reading readiness scores.
  • The majority of the at-risk children who have received Nemours BrightStart! instruction continue to display strong reading performance into the early elementary school grades.

Participating in the BrightStart! program are pre-schools affiliated with

  • Lancaster County Public Schools,
  • Bethel/Emmanuel United Methodist Church ,
  • Middlesex Family YMCA,
  • Richmond County YMCA,
  • Northern Neck Family YMCA.

While this marks BrightStart!’s entry in the Northern Neck communities, the program has been active in Jacksonville and Port St. Joe, Florida, for years, benefitting from the support of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. In Port St. Joe and surrounding Gulf County, BrightStart! trained the entire cadre of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers, enabling screenings for hundreds of young children through the support of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.