There’s a hidden, but important lesson from the findings in the Tennessee pre-K study

Research has shown both short and long-term benefits of high-quality pre-K. So it was surprising when a recent study found that children who attended Tennessee’s state-run voluntary pre-K program actually performed slightly worse on sixth grade tests and behavioral measures than children who were wait-listed for the program.

This single study has renewed the debate about the value of universal pre-K and the need for continued investments in early learning.

Yet, as noted by researchers and advocates alike, there are many reasons why the study’s findings aren’t really so bleak — and they all highlight the need to collect better data so we can understand what really works.