A randomized control trial of a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program on children's skills and behaviors through third grade: Research report
In 2009, Vanderbilt University's Peabody Research Institute, in coordination with the Tennessee Department of Education's Division of Curriculum and Instruction, initiated a rigorous, independent evaluation of the state's Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK). TN-VPK is a full-day prekindergarten program for four-year-old children expected to enter kindergarten the following school year. The program in each participating school district must meet standards set by the State Board of Education that require each classroom to have a teacher with a license in early childhood development and education, an adult-student ratio of no less than 1:10, a maximum class size of 20, and an approved age-appropriate curriculum. TN-VPK is an optional program focused on the neediest children in the state. It uses a tiered admission process with children from low-income families who apply to the program admitted first. Any remaining seats in a given location are then allocated to otherwise at-risk children including those with disabilities and limited English proficiency. The evaluation was funded by a grant from the U. S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (R305E090009). It was designed to determine whether the children who participate in the TN-VPK program make greater academic and behavioral gains in areas that prepare them for later schooling than comparable children who do not participate in the program. It is the first prospective randomized control trial of a scaled up state-funded, targeted pre-kindergarten program that has been undertaken. The current report presents findings from this evaluation summarizing the longitudinal effects of TN-VPK on pre-kindergarten through third grade achievement and behavioral outcomes for an Intensive Substudy Sample of 1076 children, of which 773 were randomly assigned to attend TN-VPK classrooms and 303 were not admitted. Both groups have been followed since the beginning of the pre-k year. (author abstract)
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Meeting families’ needs: Attendance rates in full-day vs. half-day pre-k