New Evaluation of Impact of Pre-K

Posted by on March 14, 2011

Yet more evidence of the value of pre-K

A new study from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute finds that children who attended Tennessee’s public prekindergarten gained an average of 82 percent more on early literacy and math skills than comparable children who did not attend, reports The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tenn. The study compared the performance of 303 children, some randomly admitted to state-funded pre-K classes in 23 schools and others who applied but were not admitted due to space limits. Assessments at the beginning and end of the pre-K year found that pre-K children had a 98 percent greater gain in literacy skills than those who didn’t attend, 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). The average gain across the board was 82 percent. The Vanderbilt researchers conducted a second study that corroborated the first, comparing 682 children who attended 36 pre-K classes in rural and urban Middle Tennessee to 676 children who entered a year later because of the birth date cutoff. The second study had similar findings. Both studies will continue collecting data for the next four years as the children advance through the elementary grades.

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