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Parents Rejoice: Study Exposes Myths About Pre-School

Low-income children who attended Tennessee’s highly praised preschool program performed significantly worse on every academic and social measurement by sixth grade compared to peers who did not attend the program, a recent high-quality study found.

“[T]he children randomly assigned to attend Pre-K had lower state achievement test scores in third through sixth grades than control children, with the strongest negative effects in sixth grade,” summarize the Vanderbilt University study authors. “A negative effect was also found for disciplinary infractions, attendance, and receipt of special education services…”

Enrollment in preschool programs has exploded in the United States since 1980, the study authors note, from very few four-year-olds to approximately two-thirds today. But approximately half of four-year-olds who attend preschool do so part-time. Tennessee’s statewide Voluntary Preschool (TN-VPK) program, by contrast, was relatively time-intensive, requiring its low-income students to be in classrooms of up to 20 total children for at least 5.5 hours a day. Read more…

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