Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Lindsey Wright

Online Pre-K Program Looks To Increase Kindergarten Readiness

Danielle Reynolds and her son Jackson work on reading skills following his graduation from UPSTART. (photo credit: Lindsey Wright/WTIU News)

Danielle Reynolds and her son Jackson work on reading skills following his graduation from UPSTART. (photo credit: Lindsey Wright/WTIU News)

One by one, young kids in Floyd County are graduating from their pre-K program, but it’s not traditional preschool, it’s all done online.

Jackson is one of about 100 students graduating from the home-based UPSTART program. He also attends an in-class preschool. His mom, Danielle Reynolds, was eager to try something new with him so he would be prepared for kindergarten.

“My daughter, she didn’t have a rough start, but she wasn’t maybe as prepared as I would have liked,” Reynolds says.

New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools is the first district in the state to pilot UPSTART through a federal grant. The Waterford Institute in Utah develops the software, which New Albany schools also use as a reading intervention tool for K through 2nd grade classes.

That’s why Tony Duffy, the director of elementary education, says he was expecting positive results.

“We jumped at the chance because we saw what Waterford did for other students, and we knew we had an opportunity to do that with our students that are coming in,” Duffy says.

Before beginning the program, kids take an online assessment. Then, with their parents, the kids use the program at home, 15 minutes a day, five days a week, for nine months. They take the same assessment once they’ve completed the program.
Claudia Miner, director of UPSTART, says the results of the follow up exam are compared to the exam each kid took before they began the program.

“And you might not think that was really long enough for children to learn much, but the software is so individualized that it teaches the children exactly what they need to know before they move on to the next things,” Miner says.

Currently more than 27,000 low-income four year olds don’t have access to high-quality pre-K in Indiana. Several counties have limited options or even no option.

FINAL 2017 Annual Report 1 by Indiana Public Media News on Scribd

The Indiana General Assembly is putting $1 million toward online pre-K, and it’s not exactly clear yet how the money will be distributed. Continue Reading

Vincennes University Axes Bowling Management Degree Program

Corey Umbrello started bowling when he was just 3 years old.

He developed a love for the sport, and when he was old enough, he got involved in both competitive and travel leagues. Now he’s a senior at Vincennes University where he plays on the varsity bowling team.

Umbrello is from Massachusetts, and his decision to enroll at Vincennes was based on getting to play on the bowling team and learn the tools of the trade as a student in the university’s bowling management program.

“Bowling doesn’t really get out to New England much. From my stand point, I wish it did,” he says.

The bowling management industry degree is unique to Vincennes. Umbrello calls the program a one-of-a-kind major.

(Photo Credit: Harrison Wagner/WTIU News)

(Photo Credit: Harrison Wagner/WTIU News)

How It All Got Started

The program started in the 1970s as more of a technical degree to teach students how to operate pin-setters. Over the course of time it developed and the university added management, customer service, marketing, and budgeting to the curriculum.

Much of that development can be credited to Gary Sparks, the director of recreational sports, varsity coach and teacher of the program since 1989.

“The kids can get business management programs anywhere, but they couldn’t get the bowling part of it and that was really what we were able to give them here,” Sparks says.

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