TQEE Priority Policy Three

Excellent Early Grades Teaching

90% of Tennesseans agree that ensuring every classroom has a high performing teacher would do a lot to prepare a child for success in school and life.

Excellent Early Grades Teaching

A 2015 Vanderbilt University study found that disadvantaged children who attended Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) were significantly better prepared for kindergarten than those who did not attend. However, that study, as well as research conducted by Tennessee Department of Education, found wide variation in the quality of Pre-K– 3rd grade classrooms across the state. Especially striking were the studies’ findings that K-3 classrooms failed to provide instructional quality sufficient to sustain earlier Pre-K gains.

Together with the fact that the majority of Tennessee’s 3rd graders are not proficient in reading and math, these studies point to an urgent need to transform the quality of instruction along the full Pre-K –3rd grade early learning continuum.

What does early grades transformation mean? It will involve refocusing instruction on evidenced-based, high-quality teaching practices. That means early grades instruction will: a) become developmentally-appropriate based on the age and stage of the children being taught; b) incorporate knowledge and skill building across multiple content areas including reading, math, science, social studies and the arts; and c) emphasize social and work-related, or “soft skills,” competencies. It also means it’s time to double down on support and professional development for our elementary school teachers and principals – with the goals of placing an excellent teacher in every early grade classroom and holding elementary schools accountable for early grades success.

Our priorities for improving teaching
in the early grades:

To accelerate student outcomes in 3rd grade and beyond, Tennessee needs an early grades transformation anchored in best practices for high quality early grades instruction.

  • Improve and expand quality pre-k to propel disadvantaged students’ growth and achievement;
  • Expand the use of knowledge-rich, developmentally-appropriate and inquiry-based curriculum in the early grades – across content areas;
  • Strengthen early grades teacher preparation and training;
  • Prioritize recruitment and retention of highly effective teachers in the early grades;
  • Provide comprehensive professional development for early grades teachers focused on the four pillars of high-quality early grades instruction; and
  • Build elementary school principals’ knowledge of high quality early grades instruction.

Helpful Resources

Improving Early Education

TQEE is a coalition of business, law enforcement, faith, education, civic organizations and individuals in communities across Tennessee who are committed to advancing high-quality early care and education policies and practices.
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Did You Know?

A child’s brain develops more in the first 5 years than any other time in their life

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Policy Agenda

Download TQEE’s 2019 Policy Agenda

Legislative Priorities and Wins in the Tennessee General Assembly!

Together, We Are Making A Difference

We’re proud to champion quality early childhood education for our great state of Tennessee, and with your help we’re accelerating progress.

We develop sound, evidence-based policy that strengthens early learning.

We amplify the voices of early education advocates from across the state.

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We help elect pro-early education candidates for the state legislature.

Supported By Leaders You Trust

The efforts of TQEE are supported by industry professionals,
families & thought leaders in Tennessee.

Beth Rhinehart
Rev. Kenneth Robinson, MD
Candice McQueen
Michael Rallings

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