What’s wrong with Head Start? Nothing?

So, I asked based on some things I read (don’t remember what exactly, but now that I think about it at least one was a Op-Ed column by a conservative) about the lack of long-term effectiveness for Head Start.  I knew if I was wrong, John F, would set things straight, and does:

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)

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….”

Well, how about that.  i went to the executive summary myself. Most notably, they only measured benefit until the end of 1st grade.  Truth is, from what I’ve read on such things there could very well be lasting– socio-emotional benefits especially– that aren’t going to be at all clear at just the end of 1st grade.  There were also some other clearly useful benefits.  Anyway, the picture is clearly more complicated that I thought.  But still, you would hope to see more clear impact that lasts through 1st grade.  I do wonder how Head Start compares to the efficacy of other pre-school interventions and what can be learned from this.

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

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