Early Years

Tennessee Expands Pre-K Program

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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.

Vol. 25, Issue 02, Page 14

Published in Print: September 7, 2005, as Tennessee Expands Pre-K Program

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