The United Way of Central Virginia, in partnership with Smart Beginnings Central Virginia, is proud to be entering into its third year of the Excellence in Children’s Early Language and Literacy (ExCELL) for preschool children in the counties of Amherst and Bedford, with plans to expand to other school divisions in Central Virginia in the future. ExCELL is one component of the newly-named Central Virginia School Readiness Initiative
ExCELL does not replace the curriculum a school uses, but enhances it. Through classroom coaching, teachers learn new strategies that maximize instruction, complimenting any curriculum.
ExCELL brings together families, teachers, schools, community resources, and early literacy specialists with the goal of ensuring that children receive the learning opportunities (at home, at preschool, and in the community) necessary to develop critical early learning language and literacy skills known to predict later reading success. The ExCELL model includes classroom coaching, family-fun literacy-focused events, high quality learning materials for use at school and at home, and tools to evaluate progress.
Early outcomes from the first years of the program are strong, with 96% of children (all deemed at-risk) entering kindergarten “ready” and 86% of those entering kindergarten “advanced.” The goal of the program is to help increase the school readiness of children, thus helping move the needle towards the Central Virginia School Readiness Initiative goal that 94% of area children will enter kindergarten “ready” by 2025.
Recent data indicate that only 86% of Central Virginia children enter kindergarten “ready”, with 14% having Fall Pals-K scores below kindergarten readiness levels.
The ExCELL program is managed by UWCV’s lead School Readiness Partner, Smart Beginnings of Central Virginia (www.smartbeginningscv.org). For more information about the statewide ExCELL program, visit www.excell-va.com.