Children from high-poverty neighborhoods who attended Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) had significantly higher 3rd grade reading scores than peers from similar socioeconomic conditions who did not attend the program, according to a new study appearing in the American Educational Research Journal.
Children from low-poverty neighborhoods, however, had lower reading scores at 3rd grade in the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program than their peers who did not enroll, the researchers find, noting that the analysis builds on existing research by showing that pre-K effects in Tennessee “were contingent on the neighborhoods in which children lived.”
The study’s author, Francis Pearman of Stanford University, attributes the positive effects on children in lower-income communities to the fact that those in the control group had fewer options for child care or preschool and were “overexposed” to risk factors that could include being exposed to violence, a lack of stable housing, unemployment and “weakened family units.”
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