Education
9:40 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Early Results from Tennessee Study Show Mixed Results on Value of Pre-K Education

Some early results released from a Vanderbilt University study on the impact of pre-K education show a mixed bag. The findings so far indicate that Tennessee children who make big gains in math, reading, and language by attending pre-kindergarten don’t stay ahead of their peers for long.

But the research also shows those same children can learn other behaviors that benefit them down the road.

The Tennessean reports that Vanderbilt University researchers are counseling patience regarding the unprecedented study, which follows 3,000 Tennessee children from age 4 through third grade, through the year 2015.

One early takeaway from the study: students who attend preschool are promoted from kindergarten to first grade at twice the rate of those who don’t, and have higher first grade attendance. Researchers are wondering whether those kinds of achievements are actually better predictors of long-term academic success, as opposed to focusing solely on a child’s early academic abilities.

The results of the Vanderbilt study could have a big impact on state policy, as Governor Bill Haslam has said he wants to see the findings before deciding whether Tennessee should invest more in pre-K education. Tennessee is eligible for $64.3 million in federal funds as part of President Barack Obama's "Preschool for All" initiative.

To join the program, Tennessee would have to approve a $6.4 million match. If the Volunteer State does so, an estimated 7,861 additional children would be able to attend preschool.