Students participating in a government preschool program ended up worse off than their peers who did not participate, according to a new study published by Vanderbilt University.
Since 2005, Tennessee has offered full-day prekindergarten for four-year-olds in participating school districts. The study found that students in the program were significantly better prepared for kindergarten. By the end of kindergarten, however, those students were doing just as well as similar students who were not in the pre-K program. By the second grade, students who had been in the preschool program were actually doing worse than the other students. The same was true in the third grade.
The Voluntary Pre-K for Tennessee Initiative is also known as TN-VPK.
"The early advantage of the TN-VPK children disappears, however, as the nonparticipating children catch up during the kindergarten year and match the performance of the TN-VPK participants through the end of first grade, then edge ahead in second and third grade," researchers wrote. "The children who had not attended TN VPK outperformed the children who had attended."