Tennessee Department of Education Awards Funding for High-Quality Early Learning

Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn announced that 18,560 students in 928 classrooms across Tennessee will benefit from the Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program in the 2019-2020 school year.One-hundred-thirty-eight districts applied for and received VPK funding through the competitive grant designed to serve 4-year-old students who are at-risk and students in high-priority communities.  Sixty-eight of these 138 districts are rural.

Since the Pre-K Quality Act was passed in 2016, the department has implemented a number of quality improvement efforts designed to support districts and schools and provide high-quality learning opportunities.  Revisions to the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards (TN ELDS) aligned instructional expectations with Tennessee’s K-12 Academic Standards to ensure kindergarten readiness.  This was further supported through the provision of new curriculum and instructional materials in all VPK classrooms last year and ongoing professional development for district teams and Pre-K teachers.  The department also continues to improve enrollment processes to expand access and effectively serve eligible children.

“It is critical that our youngest students get a strong start in school, especially children who have the greatest needs.  Providing these students with exceptional early learning opportunities can help set them on the path to success for years to come,” said Commissioner Schwinn.  “By providing funding and programming support for Pre-K classrooms across Tennessee, we are giving more children the chance to build a strong foundation for success throughout their school careers,” she added.

Oneida Special School District was awarded 3 VPK classes and Scott County School System was awarded 9 VPK classes.