WWC review of this study

A randomized control trial of a statewide voluntary prekindergarten program on children’s skills and behaviors through third grade (Research report).

Lipsey, M. W., Farran, D. C., & Hofer, K. G. (2015). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED566664

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    1,043
     Students
    , grade
    PK

Reviewed: September 2016

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Alphabetics outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

344.25

333.12

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Spelling subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

376.59

369.52

Yes

--
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

398.63

399.19

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Spelling subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

423.53

424.55

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

446.40

448.18

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Spelling subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

489.45

490.59

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

470.46

472.92

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Spelling subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

476.91

478.81

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

487.95

490.47

No

--
Cognition outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Composite6

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

411.23

405.85

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Composite6

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

440.98

440.98

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Composite6

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

464.11

464.97

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Composite6

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

489.56

490.80

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Composite6

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

478.00

479.89

No

--
Comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Picture Vocabulary

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

462.89

459.04

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Picture Vocabulary

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

491.32

490.25

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Picture Vocabulary

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

471.89

471.04

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Picture Vocabulary

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

478.85

478.28

No

--
General Mathematics Achievement outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Quantitative Concepts

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

422.21

417.72

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

409.05

404.95

Yes

--
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

436.67

435.76

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

457.77

457.87

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Quantitative Concepts

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

448.39

449.62

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

473.63

475.35

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Quantitative Concepts

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

489.23

490.56

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Quantitative Concepts

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

464.33

466.11

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

484.75

487.81

Yes

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Quantitative Concepts

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

476.35

479.19

Yes

--
Language development outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Oral Comprehension

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: PK;
1,043 students

452.30

450.84

No

--
More Outcomes
Show Supplemental Findings

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Oral Comprehension

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
1,015 students

466.02

464.87

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Oral Comprehension

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
962 students

494.31

494.45

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Oral Comprehension

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
997 students

477.04

478.44

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Oral Comprehension

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
985 students

485.26

486.84

No

--
Social-emotional development outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Work-Related Skills

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
900 students

5.04

4.82

Yes

--
 
More Outcomes

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Social Behavior

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Grade: K;
900 students

5.80

5.61

Yes

--
 
Show Supplemental Findings

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Work-Related Skills

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
875 students

5.13

5.06

No

--

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Social Behavior

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

4 Years

Grade: 3;
875 students

5.91

5.86

No

--

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Work-Related Skills

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
864 students

5.09

5.10

No

--

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Social Behavior

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

3 Years

Grade: 2;
864 students

5.88

5.87

No

--

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Social Behavior

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
886 students

5.80

5.86

No

--

Cooper-Farran Behavioral Rating Scale (CF), Work-Related Skills

Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK) vs. Business as usual

2 Years

Grade: 1;
886 students

5.04

5.20

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • 21% English language learners

  • Female: 52%
    Male: 48%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
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    Tennessee
  • Race
    Black
    23%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic    
    19%
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
    81%

Setting

The study took place within 21 school districts and 58 elementary schools in the state of Tennessee. Nineteen schools were in cities, 12 were in towns, 11 schools were in suburban areas, and 16 schools were in rural areas. Prekindergarten programs were operated through the school district, but actual services may have been provided through non-profit or for-profit child care providers, Head Start programs, or public schools.

Study sample

As part of a larger evaluation of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten program (TN-VPK), the authors randomly offered enrollment in 76 TN-VPK classes with more applicants than they could enroll in the 2009–10 and 2010–11 school years. In this study (referred to as the “Intensive Substudy” by the study authors), the sample was limited to children from the larger evaluation who had parental consent for data collection and had outcome data at the end of the prekindergarten year (1,076 of the 3,025 children who were randomized). Using the Intensive Substudy sample, the authors employed a quasi-experimental design to compare children who had attended TN-VPK for 20 or more days to children who did not attend TN-VPK or attended fewer than 20 days. In the Intensive Substudy sample, children were 51.8 months (4 years, 4 months) of age on average at baseline; 48% were male; 23% were African American, and 19% were Hispanic; and 79% were native English speakers. The sample sizes varied by outcome and wave of measurement.

Intervention Group

The intervention condition attended TN-VPK for 20 or more days. TN-VPK is a full-day program for 4-year-olds that operates on the same school-year calendar as the public school system in Tennessee. Enrollment is prioritized for students who are deemed as being at risk (i.e., eligible for free/reduced price lunch, English learners, children with disabilities, or “otherwise at risk”). The program must meet state board of education standards regarding teacher licensing, adult:student ratio, class size, and approved curriculum. The study authors stated that the 20-day threshold for attendance corresponds to a state enrollment standard.

Comparison Group

The comparison group children did not attend TN-VPK or attended fewer than 20 days of TN-VPK. These children could have been cared for at home, received private childcare, attended Head Start, or attended another center-based preschool program.

Support for implementation

The state board of education standards for TN-VPK specify a licensed classroom teacher, at least one adult per 10 children, maximum class size of 20, and use of an approved curriculum. Non-school settings (e.g., private child care or Head Start) needed to meet these standards and hold the highest ratings from the Tennessee Department of Human Services licensing system. No additional information is provided about implementation of the program.

 

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