Three hundred new prekindergarten classrooms will open in Tennessee this fall in more than 100 school districts as part of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s plan to expand early-childhood education in the state.
By Oct. 1, the classes must be led by certified teachers and teaching assistants with special child-development training. The classes will be limited to 20 children from low-income families.
The growth of Tennessee’s state-financed prekindergarten is being paid for with $25 million in lottery money in the current fiscal 2006 state budget.
The governor, a Democrat, says pre-K education will result in higher K-12 test scores, fewer dropouts, more college-educated residents, and a higher-skilled workforce.
The New Brunswick, N.J.-based National Institute for Early Education Research, which publishes an annual yearbook on state pre-K programs, rates Tennessee’s prekindergarten, which has been operating on a pilot basis since 1998, among one of the best in the country. The program meets eight out of the 10 quality indicators tracked by the institute.