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First 8 Memphis was established to implement Shelby County’s high-quality early care and education system which aims to prepare

90% of our children to be Kindergarten ready
90% of our 3rd graders are reading on grade level

First 8 Memphis is partnering with the City of Memphis and Shelby County government to support, coordinate and administer funding for a comprehensive, universal needs-based Pre-K program for children living in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee.

1,402 four-year old children enrolled
67 Pre-K total classrooms
10 Pre-K partners across Shelby County - logos for each of the following schools: Asprie Public Schools, Achievement School District, Bartlett City Schools, Libertas School of Memphis, Porter-Leath, Memphis Scholars, Freedom Preparatory, Shelby County Schools, Millington Schools, Capstone Education
49 Financed or Pay for Success Classrooms, 18 Non-Financed or Direct Funded Classrooms
< 185% FPL Family Income Requirement

Outcomes Financing

Sometimes called Pay for Success – outcomes financing is a financing approach that gives the government the opportunity to pilot and implement services and pay for strong outcomes. This has enhanced accountability and built more transparency to human services delivery.

Pre-K during Covid-19

COVID-19 has had a big impact on the education of young children. Young children learn best through play and meaningful interactions with others. Shelby County Pre-K students transitioned to remote learning in March of 2020 and most have experienced virtual learning since. Pre-K classrooms and programs had a more varied start to the school year than years prior, with programs beginning August 10 through September 14.

Pre-K students who transitioned to Kindergarten during the pandemic participated in Kindergarten readiness assessments at the beginning of the school year. Local Pre-K programs, school districts and national Pre-K experts are raising concerns about the validity of remote assessments. School districts, teachers and families have had to re-imagine education.

Pre-K Reading Assessment

Screenings and assessments offer a comprehensive look of a child’s development at a certain point in time. F8M Pre-K classrooms measured students’ reading growth. 76% of F8M Pre-K students either remained on track to meet reading grade level expectations or moved from being in significant risk, to being on grade level, from the beginning of the Pre-K program year through March 2020.

Number of Students Assessed by First 8 Memphis

Tier 1 is on track to meet grade-level expectations, Tier 2 is at some risk of not meeting grade-level expectations, Tier 3 may be at significant risk of not meeting grade-level expectations

First 8 Memphis Pre-K Success Measures


Enrollment standards ensure that 95% of eligible students are enrolled in an F8M Pre-K classroom. F8M end of year enrollment was 1,284 students maintaining a 97% enrollment capacity.

Enrollment standards ensure that 95% of eligible students are enrolled in an F8M Pre-K classroom. F8M end of year enrollment was 1,284 students maintaining a 97% enrollment capacity.

Attendance is considered satisfactory when students attend at least 90% of total school days for which they were enrolled. 65% of F8M Pre-K students met satisfactory attendance goal.

Attendance is considered satisfactory when students attend at least 90% of total school days for which they were enrolled. Attendance 65% of F8M Pre-K students met satisfactory attendance goal.

Pre-K enrollment and attendance are shaped by factors both inside and outside of school. Shelby County data shows that the major contributing factors to low enrollment and attendance include transportation, child and/or family illness and other challenges related to poverty and family needs.

Kindergarten readiness is a marker of elementary school success. It is defined at the 50th percentile of a normed national sample. As a result of the public health crisis and subsequent school closures, Kindergarten readiness and other achievement data from 2019- 2020 is not available as the United States Department of Education and the Tennessee General Assembly waived federal and state assessments and accountability for the school year. When compared to previous years, it is likely that First 8 Memphis Pre-K students would have tested similarly to Shelby County Kindergarten students in prior years.

F8M Pre-K Program Quality Standards - Pre-K Program quality standards resulted in: Higher levels of teacher-student interaction, Stronger classroom management, Higher levels of student engagement
  • Early learning & development standards implemented
  • Teacher degree BA
  • Educational assistant degree, High School Diploma, Child Development Associate or equivalent
  • Staff professional development 30 hours/year
  • Teaching coaching and instructional support
  • Maximum class size 20 with staff-child ratio 1:10
  • Minimum 5.5 hours/day of instructional time (per classroom) 5 days/week
  • Health, mental health, family need screenings & referrals
  • Structured classroom observations: data used for program improvement
  • Transition to Kindergarten support

*Enrollment and attendance data reflects August 2019 – March 2020, quarters 1-3 of the school year as school buildings were closed thereafter due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

Community Partnerships to Ensure Family Support

Family supports help to ensure that families have what they need so their children can thrive in Pre-K. The most utilized family support services included:

Adult Literacy and Education
Financial Asset Building and Income Support
Food Pantries and Assistance
Health and Mental Health Supports
English as a Second Language Courses

Family Engagement

Family engagement helps promote Pre-K growth and learning by partnering with families in their children’s education. Family Engagement opportunities included:

Parent Teacher Conferences
Opportunities for families to engage in school leadership roles
Dad Engagement Opportunities
Class Holiday Parties
Open House
Parent Trainings
Parents Reading to Student Classes
Block Parties
Other Student Events

Investing in First 8 Memphis Pre-K Students

$11 Million Total 2019-2020 F8M Pre-K Budget
$7,500 Spending per Child Enrolled
100% Local Government Funding

*F8M Pre-K spending was intended to match Preschool Development Grant spending of approximately $7500 in 2018-2019 school year