White County awarded over $400,000 in pre-K funding

By | May 7, 2018 6:43 am

Seven pre-K classrooms in White County will benefit from the Voluntary Pre-K funding recently awarded by the Tennessee Department of Education.

White County has been awarded $432,092 in Voluntary Pre-K funding from the Tennessee Department of Education for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently announced that over 18,000 students across the state will benefit from the VPK program in the 2018-19 school year.

On May 3, 2018, the Tennessee Department of Education announced that nearly 95 percent of all local school districts in Tennessee would receive VPK funding. This program funding is designed primarily to serve 4-year-olds who are at-risk and those in high-priority communities for future academic success.

This funding for White County will be utilized to help support and assist seven VPK classrooms.

In an effort to help ensure the program provides children with a high-quality opportunity to develop school readiness skills and a strong foundation for learning, the application process was revised, in 2017, to align with the state department’s definition of excellence in pre-K classrooms. According to the requirements outlined in the Tennessee Pre-K Quality Act of 2016, VPK funding was awarded on a competitive basis to provide consistently high-quality VPK programs that prioritize serving students from low-income families.

“It is important that we set our students up for academic success from day one with high-quality early learning opportunities, especially for those students with the greatest need,” stated McQueen. “By supporting 95 percent of our districts with excellent Voluntary Pre-K classrooms, we will allow more students in Tennessee the opportunity to build a strong foundation from which they can jump-start their academic journeys.”

To help ensure VPK funding is used to maximize and increase student outcomes, the funding is based on program quality standards, including:

-Full enrollment in programs serving the highest-need students

-Use of a quality curriculum aligned to the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards for 4-year-olds

-Consistent, positive and responsive student-teacher interactions

-Instruction that reflects an integration of standards and builds deep content knowledge

-Use of student outcome data to improve instruction

-Frequent classroom observations with job-embedded support for pre-K teachers

-Family outreach to maximize enrollment and support at-home learning

The Tennessee Department of Education has stated it is important to give districts the support and training necessary to improve the quality of VPK programs. In the coming weeks, all districts that applied for VPK funding will receive district-specific, narrative feedback on each section of their application, as well as targeted supports based on areas of growth noted on the application.

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