Vanderbilt Pre-K study shocks with finding of sharply diminishing returns

This wasn't what they expected:

Not only did students who missed pre-K catch up within a year or two. But researchers found, on the whole, students who attended pre-K fell behind their peers by the time they finished third grade.

“We’re pretty stunned looking at these data and have a lot of questions about what might be going on in the later grades that doesn’t seem to be maintaining, if not accelerating, the positive gains, professor Mark Lipsey, director of the Peabody Research Institute, said in a statement.

The study (PDF here) followed more than 3,000 students — all of whom were eligible for pre-K under the existing economic guidelines and included students who were not enrolled in pre-K. Of those 3,000, 1,076, again split between pre-K enrollees and non-enrollees were given annual individual assessments. Vanderbilt said it is the first "rigorous controlled longitudinal study to be conducted on a large-scale state-funded Pre-K program," where as other studies focused on programs that were dissimilar to state pre-K.

Here's the takeaway:

The researchers concluded that TN-VPK clearly is not producing the positive effects on academic achievement in the later grades that its advocates and sponsors expected, despite relatively strong gains during the pre-k year. Though the challenges are great, the potential of pre-K to produce such effects cannot be entirely dismissed on the basis of this study. Some of the relevant considerations the researchers suggest be taken into account include:

Poverty is a strong indicator for future academic disadvantage, and there is a pressing need to find ways to boost the academic performance of children in poverty. High quality pre-K could be a vital part of the equation, but is unlikely to be sufficient by itself at even the highest quality levels.

Tennessee has done the hard work of creating a pre-K infrastructure involving large numbers of classrooms statewide and has commitment from parents and school administrators. It may be wise to work on improving the quality and consistency of the programs delivered through that infrastructure, and assessing their effects, before reaching any final conclusions about the benefits of VPK for Tennessee children.

Pre-K is not well integrated into the K-3 instructional sequence in many schools with the result that there is not always the continuity that might allow the gains made in pre-K to be sustained and further developed. For participating children, VPK is only one part of the critical K-3 learning period and greater attention may be needed to the challenge of supporting linked, cumulative learning throughout this period.

“Pre-K is a good start, but without a more coherent vision and consistent implementation of that vision, we cannot realistically expect dramatic effects,” said Farran. “Too much has been promised from one year of preschool intervention without the attention needed to the quality of experiences children have and what happens to them in K-12. There is much work to be done.”

Sep 28, 2015 11:38 AM

TNGOP put out attack piece on Barry

The TNGOP sent out a targeted (targeted to "staunch Republican" voters) mail piece tying Megan Barry to the "Obama Way."

Sep 28, 2015 7:14 AM

Alexander opposes government shutdown over Planned Parenthood

The senior senator makes a good point:

“The United States Congress is in the business of dealing with contentious issues. If we shut down the government every time a contentious issue came up, the government would never be open.

Sep 28, 2015 7:12 AM

Barry to be 'closer' in super search

Megan Barry will be the "closer" in the revived search for a permanent superintendent for MNPS.

"If there is somebody out there that you are thinking about, I will pick up the phone, I will call them, I will go see them, I will help recruit them to Nashville," Barry told the board. "What I am hoping this director search does, is that, at this point we are actively going after the people who may not even think that they want to be our director. They may be doing some incredible things in their district, they may not even have thought about a Nashville directorship, but you thought about them and you thought about them because they fit the profile that you built."

Sep 28, 2015 7:09 AM

Scott DesJarlais on Boehner

He comes not to praise the House speaker...

“I am certainly thankful for Speaker Boehner’s career of public service in the House of Representatives. However, Tennessee’s Fourth District has long held the belief that Republican leadership needed a new direction. That is why in January I voted against John Boehner for Speaker of the House. Now we must come together as a conference to ensure we elect a consistent, conservative leader.”

Sep 25, 2015 12:25 PM

Cooper on Boehner

Rep. Cooper on the resignation of the Speaker:

“Speaker Boehner is a very honorable man who always tries to do the right thing. He understands that compromise is in our job description,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, he had a nearly impossible job leading an increasingly unreasonable and right-wing party that refuses to work with Democrats for the good of the nation.”

Sep 25, 2015 9:58 AM

Public Works vet named interim director

Mark Macy replaces retiring interim Randy Lovett
Sep 25, 2015 6:55 AM

Dean's last day

A bat signed by Carl Yastremski and a poem were among the parting gifts for Karl Dean, as he made his last trip around Nashville Thursday.

Sep 25, 2015 6:12 AM

Barry's first 100 days

Housing, education, transit and dealing with the fight back from the state on the local-hire amendment will be the early focus for Megan Barry.

Sep 25, 2015 6:10 AM

Will VW troubles harm Tennessee?

Both Gov. Haslam and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke have received assurances from VW that the automaker's recent troubles shouldn't affect the Tennessee plant. Of course, VW assured purchasers of clean diesel cars that they were getting clean diesel cars, too.

Sep 24, 2015 2:02 PM