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A Randomized Control Trial of a Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Program on Children's Skills and Behaviors through Third Grade

Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute, Abt Global


September 28, 2015

The positive effects of Tennessee’s pre-K program for economically disadvantaged children are significant at first, but fade out in early elementary grades, found a landmark study by Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute, and Abt Global.

The TN-VPK Effectiveness Study, a coordinated effort between Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development and the Tennessee Department of Education, is a five-year, $6 million evaluation study that launched in 2009. It includes the first randomized control trial of a scaled-up state-funded pre-K program. It focuses on Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K Program (TN-VPK), an $85 million-plus statewide investment targeting the ever-growing population of at-risk preschoolers

Investigators found that children attending VPK made greater gains on a range of early achievement measures than comparable peers who did not attend pre-K, and were rated by their kindergarten teachers as better prepared for kindergarten.

By the end of kindergarten, however, the children who did not attend VPK had caught up and there were no longer significant differences between the two groups.

Focus Areas
North America