Pilot Programs Narrow Technology Gap for At-Risk Preschool Students

At-risk children in three Chicagoland area schools use education technology from Hatch® Early Learning in their pre-Kindergarten classrooms as part of iStartSmart™ Mobile tablet pilot programs. Administrators monitor teacher-student interactions and school performance, while teachers use the progress monitoring system to understand each child’s skill level and to refocus learning.

Fontane Thomas, a Pre-School for All teacher at Stephen K. Hayt Elementary, has used iStartSmart Mobile tablets in his classroom since October 2012. “Using Hatch technology, I am able to sit one-on-one with my [English Language Learner] students and … walk them through a series of activities to see if they are gaining the skills I want them to learn,” said Thomas. “This is very important for reducing the technology gap and the achievement gap because it actually supplements what is happening in the classroom.” Visit HatchEarlyLearning.com/Chicago to view the video.

Dr. Laurie Klomhaus, Principal at Todd Early Childhood in Aurora's West Aurora School District 129, oversees instruction in 11 classrooms with a high concentration of economically disadvantaged students, students with special abilities and English Language Learners. “I like the simplicity of the whole system,” she said. “I can easily pull reports that show me how often the tablets are used. That insight into what is happening in the classroom helps to guide my decisions about the professional development needs of my staff.”

The Head Start program at Northwestern University Settlement House in Chicago chose to invest in iStartSmart technology after winning a national grant to make program improvements. “Our children in Head Start should be given an opportunity to use the best technology available for early learners,” said Linda McLaren, Head Start Site Director.

The iStartSmart Learning System by Hatch moves children through a series of activities rich in research-based educational content. Activities engage children as they develop 18 kindergarten readiness skills critical for early school success. With the Hatch Report Management System teachers pinpoint areas of difficulty and redirect the software to present activities focused on specific skillsets.