Post Register: Smarty Ants pre-K app struggles to reach kids

In 2017, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra said a smartphone app would fill Idaho’s pre-K gap, providing an option that would be “free, read my lips, free to the state and for all Idaho kids.”

Two years in, the app’s vendor says it has only reached a few hundred students, the Idaho Falls Post Register reported Friday.

As of this month, only 343 pre-K students are using the Smarty Ants reading app, Brennen Kauffman of the Post Register reported. In 15 of Idaho’s 44 counties, no students are using the app. In an additional 11 counties, three or fewer children are using it, Kauffman reported.

Achieve3000, Smarty Ants’ private vendor, provided the enrollment figures to the Post Register.

“This isn’t going to take the place of preschool because they still need the social aspect of education, but reading is a big piece for developing the whole child,” Jill Martin, a former Rigby elementary school teacher and regional sales director for Achieve3000, told the Post Register.

Idaho is one of only four states that does not fund pre-K, leaving schools to fund early education using local taxpayer dollars or other funding sources. This year, for the first time, Idaho is receiving a federal pre-K grant designed to take inventory of the state’s pre-K offerings.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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