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A new way to get every child ready for kindergarten

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    I'm an historian.
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    And what I love about being an historian
    is it gives you perspective.
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    Today, I'd like to bring that perspective
    to education in the United States.
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    About the only thing people can agree on
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    is that the most strategic time
    for a child to start learning
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    is early.
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    Over 50 years ago,
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    there was a watershed moment
    in early education in the US
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    called "Head Start."
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    Now, historians love watersheds
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    because it makes it so easy
    to talk about what came before
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    and what's happened since.
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    Before Head Start, basically nothing.
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    With Head Start,
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    we began to get our nation's
    most at-risk children ready for school.
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    Since Head Start, we've made strides,
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    but there are still
    2.2 million children in the US
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    without access to early learning,
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    or more than half of
    the four-year-olds in the country.
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    That's a problem.
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    But the bigger problem is what we know
    happens to those children.
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    At-risk children who reach school
    without basic skills
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    are 25 percent more likely to drop out,
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    40 percent more likely
    to become teen parents
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    and 60 percent less likely
    to go to college.
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    So if we know how important
    early education is,
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    why aren't all children getting it?
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    There are barriers that the solutions
    we've come up with to date
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    simply can't overcome.
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    Geography: think rural and remote.
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    Transportation: think
    working parents everywhere.
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    Parent choice: no state requires
    a four-year-old to go to school.
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    And cost: the average cost for a state
    to educate a preschooler
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    is five thousand dollars a year.
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    So am I just going
    to keep talking about problems?
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    No.
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    Today, I want to tell you about
    a cost-effective, technology-delivered,
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    kindergarten-readiness program
    that can be done in the home.
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    It's called UPSTART,
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    and more than 60,000 preschoolers
    in the US have already used it.
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    Now, I know what you might be thinking:
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    here's another person throwing tech
    at a national problem.
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    And you'd be partially right.
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    We develop early learning software
    designed to individualize instruction,
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    so children can learn at their own pace.
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    To do that, we rely on experts from fields
    ranging from reading to sociology
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    to brain science development
    to all aspects of early learning,
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    to tell us what the software
    should do and look like.
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    Here's an example.
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    (Video) Zero (sings
    to the tune of "Day-O"): Zero!
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    Zero!
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    Zero is the number
    that's different from the others.
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    Seagulls: Zero is a big, round "O."
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    Zero: It's not like one,
    I'm sure you'll discover.
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    Seagulls: Zero is a big, round "O."
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    (Laughter)
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    Claudia Miner: That is "The Zero Song."
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    (Laughter)
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    And here are Odd Todd and Even Steven
    to teach you some things about numbers.
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    And here are the Word Birds,
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    and they're going to show you
    when you blend letter sounds together,
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    you can form words.
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    You can see that instruction
    is short, colorful and catchy,
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    designed to capture a child's attention.
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    But there's another piece to UPSTART
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    that makes it different
    and more effective.
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    UPSTART puts parents in charge
    of their children's education.
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    We believe, with the right support,
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    all parents can get their children
    ready for school.
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    Here's how it works.
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    This is the kindergarten readiness
    checklist from a state.
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    And almost every state has one.
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    We go to parents wherever they are,
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    and we conduct a key
    in-person group training.
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    And we tell them the software can check
    every reading, math and science box,
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    but they're going to be responsible
    for motor skills and self-help skills,
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    and together, we're going to work
    on social emotional learning.
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    Now, we know this is working
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    because we have a 90-percent
    completion rate for the program.
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    Last year, that translated
    into 13,500 children
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    "graduating," with diplomas, from UPSTART.
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    And the results have been amazing.
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    We have an external evaluation
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    that shows our children
    have two to three times the learning gains
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    as children who don't
    participate in the program.
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    We have a random control trial that shows
    strong evidence of effectiveness,
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    and we even have a longitudinal study
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    that shows our children's gains
    last into third and fourth grade,
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    the highest grades the children
    had achieved at the time.
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    Those are academic gains.
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    But another study has shown
    that our children's social emotional gains
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    are equal to those of children
    attending public and private preschool.
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    The majority of the 60,000 children
    who have participated in UPSTART to date
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    have been from Utah.
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    But we have replicated our results
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    with African-American
    children in Mississippi --
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    this is Kingston and his mother;
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    with English language
    learners in Arizona --
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    this is Daisy and her family;
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    with refugee children in Philadelphia --
    this is my favorite graduation photo;
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    and with Native American children
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    from some of the most remote
    parts of the United States.
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    This is Cherise, and this is
    where she lives in Monument Valley.
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    Now, there are skeptics about UPSTART.
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    Some people don't believe young children
    should have screen time.
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    To them, we say:
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    UPSTART's usage requirement
    of 15 minutes a day, five days a week,
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    is well within the hour-a-day recommended
    by the American Academy of Pediatrics
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    for four-year-olds.
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    Some people believe
    only site-based preschool can work,
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    and to them, we say:
    site-based preschool is great,
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    but if you can't get a child there
    or if a parent won't send a child there,
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    isn't a technology-delivered,
    results-based option a great alternative?
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    And we love working
    with site-based preschools.
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    Right now, there are
    800 children in Mississippi
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    going to Head Start during the day
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    and doing UPSTART at night
    with their families.
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    Our audacious idea is to take UPSTART
    across the country --
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    not to replace anything;
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    we want to serve children who otherwise
    would not have access to early education.
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    We have the guts to take on the skeptics,
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    we have the energy to do the work,
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    and we have a plan.
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    It is the role of the states
    to educate their children.
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    So first we will use philanthropy dollars
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    to go into a state to pilot
    the program and get data.
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    Every state believes it's unique
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    and wants to know that the program
    will work with its children
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    before investing.
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    Then we identify key leaders in the state
    to help us champion UPSTART
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    as an option for unserved children.
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    And together, we go to state legislatures
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    to transition UPSTART from philanthropy
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    to sustainable and scalable state funding.
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    That plan has worked --
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    (Applause)
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    Thanks.
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    Thank you.
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    That plan has worked
    in three states to date:
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    Utah, Indiana and South Carolina.
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    We've also piloted the program
    in a number of states
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    and identified champions.
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    Next, we're moving to states
    with the greatest geographic barriers
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    to work the plan,
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    and then on to states
    that already have early education
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    but may not be getting
    great academic results
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    or great parent buy-in to participate.
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    From there, we go to the states
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    that are going to require the most data
    and work to convince,
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    and we'll hope our momentum
    helps turn the tide there.
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    We will serve a quarter of a million
    children in five years,
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    and we will ensure that states continue
    to offer UPSTART to their children.
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    Here's how you can help:
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    for two thousand dollars,
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    we can provide a child
    with UPSTART, a computer and internet,
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    and that child will be part of the pilot
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    that makes certain other children
    get UPSTART in the future.
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    We also need engaged citizens
    to go to their government
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    and say just how easy it can be
    to get children ready for school.
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    You wouldn't be here
    if you weren't an engaged citizen,
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    so we're asking for your help.
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    Now, will all of us this make UPSTART
    a watershed moment in early education?
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    I believe together we can make it one.
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    But I can tell you without a doubt
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    that UPSTART is a watershed moment
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    in the life of a child who otherwise
    would not be ready for school.
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    Thank you.
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    (Applause)
Title:
A new way to get every child ready for kindergarten
Speaker:
Claudia Miner
Description:

Early education is critical to children's success -- but millions of kids in the United States still don't have access to programs that prepare them to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. Enter the UPSTART Project, a plan to bring early learning into the homes of children in underserved communities, at no cost to families. Education innovator Claudia Miner shares how UPSTART is setting four-year-olds up for success with 15 minutes of learning a day -- and how you can help. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
09:36

English subtitles

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