Nemours BrightStart!

Nemours BrightStart! Program for Early Literacy Success (NBS!) is a program dedicated to the prevention of reading failure in young children. Started in 2005 through the generous funding of the Nemours Foundation (a large pediatric health system), NBS! is an example of how Nemours’ understands that child health and learning are intricately linked, and that reading failure is a major child health issue.

Since 2005, NBS! has screened thousands of children in schools, childcare centers and the community using a standardized early literacy screening tool − Get Ready to Read (GRTR). They developed a unique and highly effective instructional curriculum to assist in closing the reading readiness achievement gap for struggling, diverse young learners, before they enter elementary school. Through the screening and intervention efforts, NBS! has identified and provided high quality, early literacy instruction to over 3,000 young children at risk for reading failure. In 2010, the curriculum was published and distributed through Kaplan Early Learning Company, Inc. as the Nemours BrightStart! Complete Program for Early Literacy Success, Level One and Level Two.

The Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County implemented the Nemours BrightStart! (NBS!) in November 2015. Nine centers and seventeen classrooms were involved in the initial launch of the pilot program, impacting approximately 220 students. Ten Directors and/or Assistant Directors, along with 16 teachers and six Early Learning Coalition staff members attended the required training.

The training consisted of twelve intensive hours of curriculum-specific hands on instruction with the lessons and materials, in addition to explaining the history, philosophy, and rationale of the NBS! program. After completing the training and demonstrating mastery, the teachers and directors were prepared to competently implement the program.

The coalition presented each provider with a Nemours BrightStart! Lesson Plan Kit, Manipulatives Kit, and book set. Each teacher was assigned a coach to serve as an essential resource for the program. The NBS! Coaches made weekly visits to each classroom to maintain the fidelity of the program and give any support that was needed. Teachers received monthly newsletters that included NBS! reminders, ideas for extension activities, and implementation suggestions and strategies. The teachers and coaches found that the NBS! Curriculum showed extensive evidence of improvement, not just in the students’ ability to read, but also in the overall quality of the classroom, as a whole. Teachers were able to identify specific learning delays or advances while working with each child in a small group atmosphere. The curriculum's structure encourages teachers to use a variety of multisensory strategies to reach each child by targeting their individual learning preferences. The program welcomes movement and demands active participation from both the teacher and student.

What Is the Evidence That Nemours BrightStart!’s Curriculum Is Effective?

In the fall of 2015, 116 pre-K children were given the early literacy screener, Get Ready to Read-Revised (GRTR-R) and the 26-item Letter Name/Letter Sound (LN/LS) assessments as a pre-test. Of the 116 children, 50 qualified by scoring standard scores less than 90, indicative of below average skills. To determine growth, 38 qualifying students and 40 randomly selected non-qualifying students, who still actively participated in the program, were re-tested mid-year with the GRTR-R & the LN/LS assessments. The graph and tables below illustrate the growth, on average, of the group of children who qualified and received the NBS! program and those children who did not qualify. At mid-year, the majority of the NBS! group moved to the average range, closing the significant gap between them and their non-qualifying peers.


Average GRTR-R Raw Scores, Point Gain, Percentage Gain

  Pre-Test Mid-Yr Point Gain % Gain
Qualifying NBS! Students 9.82 15.53 5.71 58%
Non-Qualifying NBS! Students 17.85 20.53 2.68 15%


Average Letter Name (LN) & Letter Sound (LS) Scores, Avg. Point Gain, Avg. Percentage Gain

Group Letter Name (LN) Letter Sound (LS)
   Pre-Test  Mid-Yr  Point Gain  % Gain  Pre-Test  Mid-Yr  Point Gain  % Gain
 Qualifying NBS! Students  5.08  9.95  4.87  96%  2.61  7.29  4.68  179%
Non-Qualifying NBS! Students 16.10 20.38 4.28 27% 12.20 16.68 4.48 37%


What do the teachers and directors say about Nemours BrightStart!?

A+ Growing Academy:
“After conducting the Mid-year Get Ready to Read assessments, we discovered that 80% of our qualifying students were no longer performing below average on the assessment.”

A Child’s Galaxy:
“The breakout sessions with my small “Study Buddy Groups” give me the opportunity to meet my students’ individual needs. By having this time, it affords me the ability to identify and tend to my students specific needs on a developmental and academic basis.”

“Any time prior to the implementation of this program when I mentioned "assessments" to my staff, it was always followed with a big sigh. This program offers us a new type of "assessment" that really is effortless and yields very valuable information.”

Manatee United Methodist:
“Some of my children have struggled with language development. I personally feel that Nemours has been directly responsible for their improvement.”

Sunshine Academy:
“The curriculum has given us new ideas to use when teaching the children their letters and sounds. It has inspired many ideas for extension activities that can be implemented in centers throughout the classroom to accommodate the children’s different learning styles.”

Bright Beginnings:
“Because of the small group and systematic approach of this curriculum, my teachers were able to detect atypical behavior that encouraged us to reach out to the ELC for further resources. Thanks to the Nemours BrightStart! Program, and its concentration on the child as an individual, we were able to be proactive and seek specialized services for three students.”

Tiny Tots University:
The best part of this tool is that it is not only for children who are falling behind but it is a tool that every child can use. With everything provided in the multisensory kit, it is easy to teach the lessons and does not take a lot of prep time.

DC’s Child care Center Two:
The children look forward to the specific time that is put aside to do their small group Nemours BrightStart! lessons, eagerly anticipating when it will be their turn! NBS! has given me many inspirations, but one that I use on a daily basis stems from the weekly read aloud. I take repetitious dialogue and turn it into a chant to be used during transitional times. For example, during lesson 6, when students transitioned from circle time to lunch, I chanted, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, I’m looking for someone in this room his/her name begins with a special sound… Can you guess whom I have found?” Not only are the children having to identify the beginning sound of their name, but also of their peers.

Creative Kids:
It has been amazing to hear the students in the three year old and the VPK classes segment syllables, blend words, identify rhyming words and sound out not only their names, but also the names of their peers. We have received several encouraging compliments from parents stating that their children are already sounding out and identifying words outside the classroom. My hope is this literacy program will continue so that more children in our county can benefit from it.

For more information on the Nemours BrightStart! program, please contact Susan Kelly at (941) 757-2900 ext. 266 or via email at