First 10 Blog

Media Coverage of Tennessee Preschool Study


Education Week’s Early Years blog has a helpful round-up of a wide range of media coverage of the Tennessee preschool study. A few choice excerpts:

Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, whose work on the return of investment on prekindergarten has been cited eagerly by early-education advocates, has weighed in on a study that found Tennessee’s prekindergarten program didn’t help children.

“Vanderbilt University’s study of Tennessee’s Voluntary Preschool Program evaluates a low-quality early-childhood program using a flawed methodology,” Heckman said.


Writing for The Hechinger Report on Sept. 29, I [Lillian Mongeau] focused on the quality question: “Moreover, Farran and her fellow researchers did a separate study that used a commonly accepted research tool to evaluate 160 state preschool classrooms on a scale of one to seven. Only 15 percent of the classrooms they observed met the benchmark for ‘good’ or better.”


Steven Barnett, director of the Rutgers-based National Institute of Early Education Research, wrote a long, undated, post on his institute’s blog urging readers to take the study as a lesson that high quality is important in practice, not just in name.


On Oct. 3, David Kirp, in an opinion piece for The New York Times, pointed to Boston, New Jersey, North Carolina and other public programs that have seen stronger results. He urged readers to recognize the expensive nature of providing high-quality preschool. “In education, as in much of life, you get what you pay for,” Kirp wrote.