Report | March 4, 2020

Pre-K to Third Grade Investments Build a Foundation for Tennessee Students' Success

How investing in their early years will help make young Tennesseans workforce-ready, crime-free, and military-eligible

Tennessee’s long-term economic growth and public safety, as well as our national security, depend on the foundation that we lay for students in our state today. A high-quality early childhood education makes students more likely to succeed in elementary school, which, in turn, builds a foundation for success in all their years of schooling.

Business leaders in TN support quality pre-K because it provides the building blocks needed for students to be prepared for school and for the future workforce.

Larry Jensen, Chairman and Principal, Cushman & Wakefield Commercial Advisors Partners, Memphis

Yet, only 22 percent of Tennessee four-year-olds have access to state-funded preschool, and a pilot study of students in a small number of districts revealed that fewer than half of entering kindergartners demonstrated readiness to succeed in school. If students’ educational gaps, particularly in literacy, persist until third grade, their likelihood of graduating from high school diminishes substantially.

Tennessee must continue its investment in supporting students’ literacy—in particular by increasing investments in literacy coaches and ongoing professional development for teachers, and other K-3 approaches—but also by focusing on building a foundation for students that starts with high-quality early childhood education. Addressing students’ gaps as early as possible makes it more likely they will succeed in school and, later on, in life–avoiding crime, participating in the workforce, whether civilian or military and supporting themselves and their families.

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  1. Early Learning
  2. Early Math
  3. K-12


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