reading and literacy

Virginia district launches summer kindergarten readiness initiative

The Smarty Summer by Achieve3000: Diving into Early Literacy Initiative aims to prepare children for kindergarten reading success

Achieve3000 and Virginia Beach City Public Schools have partnered to create Smarty Summer: Diving into Early Literacy, a new kindergarten reading readiness initiative exclusively for Virginia Beach students.

Under this initiative, children who will be starting kindergarten in fall 2016 will receive a free summer subscription to Smarty Ants®, an effective, research-based literacy program designed specifically for young learners.

Achieve3000 is the leading literacy solution in blended learning programs today, specializing in cloud-based, differentiated learning solutions for school-aged youth as well as adult learners. It has helped millions of students worldwide to improve their reading and writing skills, master increasingly rigorous academic standards, and prepare for high-stakes assessments.

“We are looking forward to building on our partnership of success with Virginia Beach City Public Schools and supporting their goal of ensuring that every student can achieve a high standard of academic performance and growth,” said Saki Dodelson, CEO and founder of Achieve3000. “We share their commitment to providing engaging, student-centered programs that reach kids at their precise learning levels and accelerate their literacy gains. Our differentiated instruction solutions will give these kindergarteners-to-be the right start on the road to college and career success. We are looking forward to supporting Virginia Beach’s students and parents, as well as their dedicated educators, with this new initiative.”

Virginia Beach City Public Schools is the second-largest school division in Virginia, with 55 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, 12 high schools, and a number of secondary/post-secondary specialty centers. In 2014, the division superintendent, Dr. Aaron Spence, spearheaded a five-year strategic plan to prepare and empower every student to become a life-long 21st-century learner, which includes implementing a personalized learning approach at all school levels.

Smarty Ants is a foundational literacy program for grades PreK-1 that teaches children how to read in an engaging, online environment. The adaptive content system automatically evaluates each student’s skills and preferences to deliver the “just-right” level of instruction to maximize learning gains.

As students engage with the program through their unique, customizable avatar, their success is recognized and rewarded with virtual awards and mini-games. At the same time, Smarty Ants’ systematic scope and sequence builds the phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills children need to become confident, capable readers.

Virginia Beach already started using Smarty Ants for PALS-identified students in its elementary schools as of February 2016. As a blended learning program, Smarty Ants is designed to be used both in school and outside of the classroom – in fact, the program’s “anytime, anywhere, any-device access” and easy-to-use dashboard are what makes it ideal for home use during the summer.

Smarty Ants is not the only Achieve3000 solution currently implemented at Virginia Beach. In the 2015-2016 school year, the school division started a three-year partnership with the company to implement the Achieve3000 Pro Virginia Edition, which is designed for mixed-ability English language arts, social studies, and science classrooms in grades two through 12. In Virginia Beach, grades three through five use Pro for guided reading, while grades six through 12 use the solution for content-area literacy in both language arts and social studies courses.

The Virginia Edition of Achieve3000’s eScience3000® – an experiential, differentiated core science program – is also being used in the division’s middle school science classrooms. Both the Pro and eScience3000 solutions have been customized by Achieve3000’s instructional experts to align with the Virginia Beach’s learning objectives for the each grade level and subject area.

Laura Ascione

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