Feb. 27, 2011

A new Vanderbilt University Pre-K Study should stir up some lively discussion; frowns on the face of some skeptics and smiles to believers on the Loudon County Board of Education. The study found that children who participated in the PRE-K program showed greater academic gains that their peers who didn't attend the program. See the articles below.

There has been a big difference of opinion about the Pre-K program from two 5th District school board members. Van Shaver has been an outspoken critic suggesting cutting the program as a cost saving measure or preferring that the private sector provide Pre-K rather than taking up classroom space, while retired UT Professor Gary Ubben has spoken in support of the program and its benefits.

This subject will no doubt come up for discussion on Tuesday when the BOE Budget Committee meets to discuss the proposed FY 11-12 budget. Listed on the  Agenda will include Pre-K, and other programs.

Based on past school board discussions, when the Pre-k program first started here, one requirement was classroom space but this has been a bone of contention with some. While some parents wholeheartedly support the Pre-K, others felt that the program added to over-crowding at some schools forcing other students to portables with no running water, bathrooms, or sprinklers.

Pre-K programs are also offered at faith based agencies and non-profit providers.



Collaborative classroom partnerships are an integral component of the TN Pre-K program.

In 2007-2008 there were 212 collaborative classroom partnerships between 40 local school systems

and non-profit and for profit providers such as; Head Start , Even Start, For-Profit and

Not-For-Profit Child Care Providers, Faith Based Agencies, Community Based Agencies, and Higher Education Institutions.




BOE Conference Room, County Office Bldg., 100 River Rd., Loudon.


Study shows pre-K participants outgained peers

Associated Press

Friday, February 25, 2011


NASHVILLE - A new Vanderbilt University study has found that children participating in the state's public pre-kindergarten classes

showed greater academic gains than their peers who didn't attend.

The Peabody Research Institute study funded by the U.S. Department of Education tracked pre-K students' performance

at 23 schools in 14 Tennessee school districts. It showed pre-K students had 82 percent better gains than children that were not admitted to the program.

Vanderbilt researchers will continue to collect pre-K data for the next four years. They are scheduled to present their initial findings at a meeting

of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in Washington on March 4.

Public pre-K funding has been targeted by some Republican lawmakers who question its effectiveness.

But Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has spoken in favor of retaining the current level of spending on the program.


Tennessee pre-k students see 82 percent gain over peers


Children who attended state-funded prekindergarten classes gained an average of 82 percent more on early literacy and math skills

than comparable children who did not attend, researchers from the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University have found.

The initial results are from the first rigorous longitudinal study that has been conducted on the effects of public prekindergarten attendance on a statewide scale.

“This research is difficult to do but critically important to evaluating the effects of Tennessee’s investment in pre-k,” study leaders Mark Lipsey and Dale Farran said. “Such evidence is especially important in the context of the current budgetary constraints in Tennessee and other states that have made commitments to pre-k education.”

For the study, 23 schools in 14 Tennessee school districts randomly admitted children to their pre-k program. All of the schools received applications from more students than they could accommodate. The children admitted to pre-k were then compared to the children whose families applied but were not admitted. A total of 303 children were involved in this phase of the study.

Assessments at the beginning and end of the prekindergarten year found that the pre-k children had a 98 percent greater gain in literacy skills than children who did not attend a state pre-k program, a 145 percent greater gain in vocabulary and a 109 percent greater gain in comprehension. They also made strong, but more moderate, gains in early math skills (33 percent to 63 percent greater gains). Overall, the average gain across the board was 82 percent more than for the children who did not attend state pre-k.

Results from a second parallel study corroborated these findings. That study compared 682 children who attended 36 pre-k classes in rural and urban middle Tennessee schools to 676 children who had to enter a year later because of the birth date cutoff for pre-k eligibility.

The second study also found that children enrolled in state-funded pre-k classes scored significantly higher on emergent literacy and math assessments than the children who had not yet attended pre-k once the age difference was accounted for.

The strongest differences were again in the areas of literacy and language skills, with more modest gains in math skills.

Both studies will continue collecting data for the next four years. The second study will continue collecting data in waves across the state until every region is represented.

“These studies were possible only because of a strong partnership with the Division of School Readiness and Early Learning in the Tennessee Department of Education and the commitment of school districts across the state to learning about the effects of pre-k,” Lipsey said.

The studies are led by Lipsey, research professor of human and organizational development and Peabody Research Institute director, and Dale Farran, professor of education and psychology. Carol Bilbrey, research associate at the Peabody Research Institute, directed data collection.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

The researchers will report on these and other findings March 4 at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness in Washington, D.C.



CLICK TO VIEW Tennessee’s Pre-Kindergarten Program (HISTORY) - STATE COMPTROLLER pdf

This policy history outlines the origins and development of state-funded pre-kindergarten (pre-K) in Tennessee. (See Exhibit 1.) Information on program eligibility,

funding sources, and new federal grants is also provided...


Key Milestones


1998   Tennessee’s pre-k pilot program begins as an effort to target pre-k education to at-risk children across Tennessee. The program receives national recognition and is highly praised in the communities it serves.
2003   The state adopts legislation to create a lottery.
2004   The General Assembly includes early childhood education as a potential recipient of excess lottery funds.


2005   In February, Governor Phil Bredesen announces a bold new proposal that would more than double the number of pre-k classrooms funded by the state. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce passes a resolution in support of Bredesen’s pre-k proposal, and Sen. James Kyle and Rep. Kim McMillan introduce the "Voluntary Pre-K for Tennessee Act of 2005" (SB 2317 and HB 2333) shortly thereafter. The Tennessee Alliance for Early Education is formed to support this legislation, and succeeds in securing swift passage from the House in April and the Senate in May. Gov. Bredesen signs the bill, and preparations begin immediately to implement the law for the 2005-2006 school year.

The pre-k legislation also creates the Office of Early Learning in the State Department of Education to monitor the programs for accountability. The office oversees the application process, consults with local communities and school systems about new programs, works closely with child care providers and Head Start programs, and serves as a clearinghouse for information.
2006   The Tennessee Alliance for Early Education continues to grow in membership and commitment, and works closely with Gov. Bredesen and the legislature to retain existing pre-k funding and add an additional $20 million budget increase to Tennessee pre-k. The Senate Education committee unanimously supports this budget, and it passes without any legislative opposition. This increased funding creates 250 new, high-quality pre-k classrooms beginning in the fall of 2006.
2007   The Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program continues to grow as Gov. Bredesen proposes, and the legislature approves, another $25 million for an additional 257 new pre-k classrooms.



Enrollment Eligibility Requirements

Tennessee Pre-K website



Student Eligibility

Enrollment in the Voluntary Pre-K program is based upon a child’s eligibility as identified in TCA 49-6-101-104.

The pre-k state statute specifies that each LEA is authorized to and may enroll any at-risk child who is 4 years old

by September 30 and resides in the geographic area served by the LEA, with first priority given to those children

who are eligible for the free/reduced lunch program.  If a school system accurately identified the number of unserved

at-risk children in the school district, every effort should be made to fill these classrooms with this group of children.


Enrollment Priority Requirements:

1st Requirement- Pursuant to state law 49-6-101: students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. 

If an insufficient number of children meeting the above enrollment requirement are enrolled to fill a

specific classroom the LEA may enroll children who meet the following criteria: 

2nd Requirement-students with disabilities, students identified as ELL, in state custody, or those as educationally

at-risk for failure due to circumstances of abuse or neglect.

3rd Requirement-students identified with other at-risk factors as determined by the local school board and the pre-k

advisory council such as, but not limited to; children with a parent(s) in the military deployed to active duty, teen parents,

or parents with limited education.

4th Requirement-students who do not meet any at-risk criteria but are considered unserved or underserved may be enrolled.





ANDERSON  Anderson County  7
  Clinton City  1
  Oak Ridge City 5
BEDFORD Bedford County 3
BENTON Benton County  2
BLEDSOE  Bledsoe County  4
BLOUNT  Blount County  7
  Alcoa City  2
  Maryville City  2
BRADLEY  Bradley County  15
  Cleveland City  11
CAMPBELL  Campbell County  7
CANNON  Cannon County  4
CARROLL Carroll County 0
  Hollow-Rock Bruceton SSD 1
  Huntingdon SSD 3
  McKenzie SSD 1
  South Carroll SSD 1
  West Carroll SSD 2
CARTER Carter County  3
  Elizabethton City  4
CHEATHAM  Cheatham County  5
CHESTER Chester County  2
CLAIBORNE Claiborne County  11
CLAY  Clay County  3
COCKE Cocke County  3
  Newport City  2
COFFEE  Coffee County  7
  Manchester City  3
  Tullahoma City 4
CROCKETT Crockett County  2
  Alamo City  4
  Bells City  2
CUMBERLAND  Cumberland County 12
DAVIDSON Metro Nashville  55
DECATUR Decatur County  3
DEKALB  DeKalb County  5
DICKSON  Dickson County  5
GILES Giles County 5
GRAINGER  Grainger County  4
GREENE Greene County  18
  Greeneville City  5
GRUNDY  Grundy County  4
HAMBLEN  Hamblen County  7
HAMILTON  Hamilton County  35
HANCOCK  Hancock County  6
HARDEMAN  Hardeman County  10
HARDIN Hardin County  6
HAWKINS Hawkins County  4
  Rogersville City  1
HAYWOOD Haywood County  6
HENDERSON Henderson County 5
  Lexington City  2
HENRY  Henry County  3
  Paris SSD 3
HICKMAN  Hickman County  4
HOUSTON  Houston County  3
HUMPHREYS  Humphreys County  9
JACKSON  Jackson County  3
JEFFERSON  Jefferson County  8
JOHNSON  Johnson County  3
KNOX Knox County  25
LAKE  Lake County  3
LAUDERDALE Lauderdale County  9
LAWRENCE  Lawrence County  11
LEWIS  Lewis County  4
LINCOLN Lincoln County  7
  Fayetteville City  3
LOUDON  Loudon County  9
  Lenoir City  2
MCMINN McMinn County  11
  Athens City  7
  Etowah City  2
MCNAIRY  McNairy County  7
MACON Macon County  3
MADISON Jackson-Madison 15
MARION  Marion County  4
  Richard City 1
MARSHALL Marshall County 2
MAURY  Maury County  11
MEIGS  Meigs County  4
MONROE  Monroe County  3
  Sweetwater City  3
MONTGOMERY Clarksville-Montogomery 20
MOORE Moore County 1
MORGAN  Morgan County  6
OBION  Obion County  5
  Union City  2
OVERTON  Overton County  5
PERRY  Perry County  3
PICKETT  Pickett County  1
POLK  Polk County  4
PUTNAM  Putnam County  19
RHEA  Rhea County  4
  Dayton City  1
ROANE Roane County  7
ROBERTSON  Robertson County  9
RUTHERFORD  Rutherford County  11
  Murfreesboro City  12
SCOTT Scott County  10
  Oneida SSD 3
SEQUATCHIE Sequatchie 1
SEVIER  Sevier County  6
SHELBY  Shelby County  14
  Memphis City  112
SMITH  Smith County  5
STEWART  Stewart County  5
SULLIVAN Sullivan County  6
  Bristol City  4
  Kingsport City  6
SUMNER Sumner County 0
TIPTON  Tipton County  10
TROUSDALE Trousdale County 1
UNICOI  Unicoi County  6
UNION  Union County  3
VAN BUREN Van Buren County  2
WARREN  Warren County  7
WASHINGTON Washington County 0
  Johnson City  4
WAYNE  Wayne County  9
WEAKLEY  Weakley County  6
WHITE  White County  3
WILLIAMSON Williamson County  7
  Franklin SSD 4
WILSON Wilson County  10
  Lebanon SSD 8
TOTAL   934