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Tennessee Department of Education receives $1.2 Million in Funding to Increase Quality of Early Learning Programs


Tennessee Department of EducationNashville, TN – Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Monday that Tennessee was awarded an additional $1.2 million to further support high-quality early learning programs for classrooms across the state.

This funding is in addition to the nearly $70 million in Preschool Development Grants (PDG) the state received in 2014 to support pre-K expansion and enhancement in Nashville and the Shelby County in disbursements over four years.

Additional funding allows state to build on, assess early learning practices throughout Tennessee.

Additional funding allows state to build on, assess early learning practices throughout Tennessee.

In recent years, Tennessee has worked to ensure early learning programs, such as voluntary pre-K (VPK), provide children with a high-quality opportunity to develop school readiness skills and a strong foundation for learning. These newly awarded funds will allow the state to build on this work through a variety of projects, including a quality assessment of every pre-K classroom in the state.

“We want all of our students ready to succeed in school from day one,” Commissioner McQueen said. “This is why it is important that we work to prepare young children for lifelong learning and support high-quality programs throughout the state. It is especially important that we support strong early learning opportunities for our students with the greatest need, and this additional funding will allow us to better support our youngest learners.”

The new funding will be used to establish or develop the following activities:

  • VPK Director Summit to be held over the summer as an opportunity to support quality improvement work and share best practices
  • Quality assessment of every PDG and VPK classroom in the state to be conducted in the fall, which will give the department a quality measurement using a nationally recognized standardized tool
  • A robust data management system that allows the state to integrate information across multiple platforms
  • Regional communities of practice to support the department’s work with districts
  • Provide additional PDG support in Shelby County and the Achievement School District

As the department continues to make quality improvements to early learning programs, it will continue to partner with districts across the state to measure program quality and to provide strategic professional development and support. Tennessee is currently in year three of the four year disbursement of the initial Preschool Development Grant, which has allowed the state to expand pre-K classrooms in high need communities and to enhance both the quality of instruction in these classrooms and to provide comprehensive services for students and families.

To find out more about early learning programs in Tennessee, visit the department’s website or contact Elizabeth Alves, assistant commissioner of early learning and literacy, at  For media inquiries, contact Sara Gast, director of communications, at 615.532.6260 or 




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