Digital Early Learning

In Napa County, 23% of incoming kindergarteners are English language learners (ELLs) and 46% live in poverty. In our county-operated preschools, 78% are ELL and live in poverty. Although parents of these students are very concerned about their children’s education, the demands of simultaneously earning a living, often with multiple jobs, raising a family, and learning a new language themselves can make it nearly impossible for them to help their children be prepared for school.

In order for students to be able to be successful in school as they progress through the grade levels, preschool and kindergarten students need a good foundation in vocabulary skills. In fact, early literacy has been shown to be the single most important predictor of school success – if children are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade, they may never catch up. There are huge economic impacts as a result of closing the early achievement gap as well. For more information click here.

NapaLearns’ Digital Early Learning Initiative supports the five Napa County school districts and the County Office of Education, helping them implement preschool through 2nd grade online reading and math programs that include vocabulary development, multimedia storytelling, personalized learning through games and activities, and progress tracking.

What NapaLearns is Doing to Prepare Our Children

“When they use the iPads, I can see my students’ natural abilities to be creative and independent”

– Calistoga Kindergarten Teacher

Digital Early Learning in Napa County originated with a pilot program in 2011 called Summer Bridges, with 17 children of high poverty who were also English Language Learners (ELL) and who had no school experience. In collaboration with the Calistoga Joint Unified School District, the Calistoga Family Center, Napa Valley First Steps program, and the Napa County Office of Education, NapaLearns provided funding to support these disadvantaged children with iPads, digital reading curricula, Footsteps2Brilliance, and pre-post kindergarten readiness assessments during the 4 week preschool program.

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A critical part of this program was the education of parents, who learned how to use iPads and to develop their own English language skills while helping their children complete assignments. Through this program, parents became knowledgeable and confident of their abilities to participate in their child’s education.Over the course of the pilot program, reading comprehension scores increased from 58.5% to 76.4%.


Expansion of the Digital Early Learning Initiative

Learning came alive for this Yountville first grader when his teacher introduced him to an iPad and he discovered how it could help him learn reading and math.

Learning came alive for this Yountville first grader when his teacher introduced him to an iPad and he discovered how it could help him learn reading and math.

NapaLearns invests in seed funding and evaluating innovative learning programs followed by expansion and sustainability supported by district funding. This approach was wildly successful with the DEL program as districts and NapaLearns co-funded teacher professional development, acquisition of devices, digital curriculum, and parent training over the next four years until every preschool through 2nd grade classroom had fully engaged teachers and students.

  • 2011-2012: 210 kindergarten students at 7 schools in 13 classes in Napa Valley, St. Helena, and Calistoga.
  • 2012-2013: 590 kindergarten students in 40 classes in five Napa County districts. The number of English Language Learners who performed at a six year old level grew by 35%, with 80% of them performing at that level in only 5 months. Digital Early Learning followed the students into 1st grade.
  • 2014-2015: All kindergarten – 2nd grade classrooms with 4,950 students and 195 teachers were using DEL tools and curriculum. Teachers reported that the achievement gap is closing.
  • 2015-2016: NapaLearns supports the Napa County Office of Education’s 23 preschool classrooms with 410 students, 85% of whom are English Language Learners and live in poverty.
  • 2016: NapaLearns and the NCOE make Footsteps2Brilliance available to all Napa County parents of preschoolers.
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