Tennessee is about to start a $6 million statewide evaluation of its Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program, the state Department of Education has announced.
Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the study will examine the effectiveness of the program in helping kids succeed in kindergarten and later grades. Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute will collaborate with the DOE in completing the study.
“This project has the potential to strengthen education policies and practices for Tennessee’s earliest learners and for pre-kindergarten students across the nation,” said Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development for Vanderbilt University, in a statement from the DOE.
The study will be completed over the course of the next five years. Pre-K classes can participate voluntarily and at no cost to parents or local education agencies. A goal of the study will be to gather program data and identify areas for improvement.
Tennessee’s $80 million pre-K program currently serves 17,000 4-year-olds statewide. Metro Nashville Public Schools has pre-K programs at 32 public schools, funded with state and Title I dollars.