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Study: Pre-K Alone Doesn't Ensure Child's Success

A study finds that Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-K program may be missing the mark when it comes to long-term impact on a child's success in school.  Credit: phaewilk/morguefile.com
A study finds that Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-K program may be missing the mark when it comes to long-term impact on a child's success in school. Credit: phaewilk/morguefile.com
October 12, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pre-K isn't producing positive impacts on academic achievement in later grades, according to a recently released study from Vanderbilt University.

Researchers found that students who participated in state-funded pre-K benefited significantly at first, but by third grade those students tested worse in academics and behavior.

Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting International, says the results can be attributed to a lack of emphasis state programs place on early investment in children and parent support.

"Parents are their children's first teacher,” she points out. “They should be supported as well. I think our culture creates numerous obstacles for young parents to be able to give their children what they really want."

Parker says studies show that parent involvement in early learning and the act of soothing and holding a child is valuable to early development.

Researchers say more analysis is needed, and others argue that the results could be impacted by the quality of pre-K programs.

Gov. Bill Haslam has said he was waiting for the results of this 5-year study before deciding whether to increase the early childhood education budget.

Attachment Parenting International has programs available across the state to help support parents in bonding and nurturing their child, which Parker says is more cost effective that investing additional money in pre-K. She adds that parent connection is what fosters good behavior as children grow.

"One thing that's been successful, besides parent education classes and home visits – teaching parents how to stimulate their children, talking to their children, singing to their children," she points out.

Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-K program operated with an $86 million budget in 2013 to 2014. At that time 18,000 children were enrolled.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN