What’s wrong with Head Start?

Okay, so I’ve heard in a lot of places about how cost effective pre-school education can be for at-risk kids.  Spending money early in life can pay dividends years down the road.  Here’s the thing, though, the most wide-spread pre-school program for at-risk kids is the federal government’s Head Start program.  Apparently, there’s been a comprehensive study– the Head Start Impact Study– that basically shows there’s no lasting impact.  So, I don’t actually know anything about Head Start, but I assume some of you reading this do.  So, what’s the story?  Why are there a number of studies for the efficacy for various pre-school programs, but Head Start is apparently not effective?  What’s the difference?  This seems awfully important to figure out.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to What’s wrong with Head Start?

  1. That’s not what the Head Start Impact study concludes. Just from a superficial look at the executive summary (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/hs/impact_study/reports/impact_study/executive_summary_final.pdf) it appears that there is lasting benefit.

    Take a look at this: http://nieer.org/resources/research/BattleHeadStart.pdf

    ”The Battle Over Head Start: What the Research Shows
    W. Steven Barnett, PhD
    Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
    Overview

    Head Start is effective. As a comprehensive child development program, Head Start provides education, health, nutrition, and social services to children and their families through direct services or referrals. Nearly four decades of research establish that Head Start delivers the intended services and improves the lives and development of the children and families it serves.1 Despite these successes, questions continue to be raised about the extent to which Head Start produces lasting educational benefits. Many have been persuaded that Head Start produces no lasting academic benefits for children. Some have gone so far as to label Head Start a “scam.”2 A careful review of the research yields a different conclusion—Head Start produces substantial long-term educational benefits. Moreover, Head Start can produce even greater gains for children in the future. This will require increased funding and standards, particularly to raise Head Start teacher qualifications.

    Head Start “fade-out” is largely a myth….”

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