Why would children attending Voluntary Pre School do slightly better than similar students in kindergarten who did not attend VPK but less well in third grade? A serious longitudinal study in Tennessee found just that. VPK students lost ground in math and science and performed the same in reading. There were no significant differences in attendance, grade retention or discipline infractions.
This is counter intuitive, of course, and the authors provided possible explanations. At the same time, they reference similar findings in a study of Head Start students. It is thought provoking. Are these children enrolled in preschools treated differently e.g. immersed in language arts to the expense of science and math? Why would this be true for children from VPK programs but not for children with similar backgrounds?
The quality of VPK programs differ, but this in itself may not explain the study’s results.