TN Pre-K Program Becomes Example to Other States - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

TN Pre-K Program Becomes Example to Other States

Tennessee is getting national attention for what many say is one of the best Pre-K programs in the country.

The effort, which targets "at risk" four-year-olds, has grown over the past two years.

Governor Bredesen shared Tennessee's success with a national audience Wednesday.

A Vanderbilt University auditorium transformed into a makeshift TV studio Wednesday, with Governor Phil Bredesen as the star of the show.

Via satellite, Bredesen shared the success of Tennessee's Pre-K program with a national audience.

"We have some of the best standards in the country, we have low teacher ratios, small group sizes," Diane Neighbors with the Tennessee Alliance for Education said.

The program targets at-risk four-year olds who come from low-income families, or have English as their second language. The program became a priority two years ago. Last year, 300 new classrooms were opened. This year, the progress has continued.

"We've opened another 230 classes, so we are now operating a total of 670 classrooms across the state of Tennessee," Bobbi Lussier State Deptartment of Education said.

The price tag was $55 million. For the 13,000 kids enrolled right now, supporters said it's worth every penny. Early research reveals Pre-K students score better on tests.

"Governor Bredesen has promised to expand this. Each year he's in office, it's a volunteer Pre-K program, and he would like for it to be available to any child, any family in Tennessee that who would like to participate," Neighbors said.

Bredesen's confident the Pre-K program can continue to grow.

"For me to accomplish what I want to, I have four more legislatures to get though, and get some money at it every year," Bredesen said.

In the meantime, he's sharing with others Tennessee's success in jump starting the education of our youngest children.

A big part of the Pre-K program teaches kids about social skills.

Right now in Tennessee, schools in 88 counties offer the Pre-K programs.

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