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Dunn: Claims of Pre-K Effectiveness Possibly ‘the Largest Hoax Ever Perpetrated on the People of Tennessee’

Press Release from the House Republican Caucus, June 7, 2011:

House Education Committee Member, Representative Bill Dunn, Points to Dismal Findings in Recent Comptroller Report

(NASHVILLE, June 7, 2011) – Last Friday, the Office of the Comptroller released the details of a long-awaited final, summary report on the impact of pre-kindergarten in Tennessee classrooms.

The study was conducted by Strategic Research Group to investigate the short- and long-term effects of state-funded Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) participation on academic outcomes in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade through an examination of existing school records. The evaluation was structured to take place over a multi-year timeframe and in a series of reporting stages.

The study shows that gains a Pre-K child makes are very short lived. In fact, in some areas the children without Pre-K ended up doing better than those in the state program. To quote directly from page six of the study, “For students in grades 3-5, analyses have found either no significant effect of Pre-K participation on assessment scores, or, in some cases, have found that students that attended Pre-K, on average, score lower than their non-Pre-K counterparts on some assessments.”

After reviewing the details of the study, Representative Bill Dunn (R—Knoxville) pointed to the results as proof that the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent on the program may have been better used elsewhere in education.”We have teachers who need raises and children who need books and the Tennessee Pre-K program is gobbling up and wasting valuable resources,” said Rep. Dunn.

“This report should serve as a revelation for individuals who still believe Pre-K is some sort of answer for long-term achievement in education,” continued Dunn. “The fact is, it just isn’t. It may be the largest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of Tennessee.”

The full report is available on the Comptroller’s OREA website at the following address:

http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/OREA

4 replies on “Dunn: Claims of Pre-K Effectiveness Possibly ‘the Largest Hoax Ever Perpetrated on the People of Tennessee’”

The most definitive study of preschool, the Head Start Impact Study and Follow-up, 2000–2011 showed virtually all academic effects disappear by the end of 1st grade. Some preschool programs may provide some (most likely short term) gains for some children and if money grew on trees we would all happily agree to provide it for all TN children, however as that is not the case we need to use our limited funds to support programs that provide a more lasting and measurable impact, such as services/programs which help children get up to grade level, prevent them from dropping out, help troubled or at risk youth or better prepare students for college level work (so they don’t drop out of college) rather than fund a questionable program that happens to have powerful or noisy sponsors.

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