UPSTART is a home-based, computer-based preschool program for preschoolers and families in rural communities in Utah. The intervention occurs in the home. This study occurred in rural communities in Utah.
The sample was 50% male, over 90% white, and over 80% was at or under 185% of the poverty level. Over 90% of students had parents that were still married. Over 95% of students had parents that had graduated highschool, while 38% of students had parents with a bachelor's degree.
The primary component is the Waterford Early Learning (WEL) software program, an in-home preschool computer-based program that uses software to provide reading, math, and science curriculum with an emphasis on reading instruction. Content is delivered through adaptive lessons, digital books, songs, and activities and is designed to enhance reading skills such as phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, language concepts, and phonological awareness. The recommended use for the program is 20 minutes per day for 5 days per week, though children were required to sue the program at home for 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week. However, not all students received the full dosage for various reasons, so researchers treat the study as 'intent-to-treat' and considers any students receiving any dosage as program participants.
Children in the comparison condition participated in the Waterford Math/Science curriculum. The delivery, format, and requirements of the Math/Science software program were identical between the Reading only intervention group and the Math/Science comparison group. The only difference was the curriculum content.
Support for implementation
The UPSTART program had several resources available to parents to assist them, including: access to a manager portal to view children's usage, weekly newsletters about usage, and direct telephone support with Personal Care Representatives (PCRs). PCRs monitored children's usage and reached out to parent's if the usage dropped below the minimum requirement. They also served as a contact for technical difficulties or challenges with the program. District liaisons from UPSTART were assigned for the 18 districts and serve as a bridge for connecting participating families, Waterford, and school districts in order to encourage program use. Technology was provided in some circumstances where families do not possess and cannot afford required technology (e.g. computers, modems, internet).