Thursday, January 17, 2013

Head Start Does Not Benefit Low Income Students On Any Measure: US Department of Health and Human Services Report

Posted by Milton Recht:

From Brookings, "Can We Be Hard-Headed About Preschool? A Look at Head Start" by Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst:
The findings [Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report, December 18, 2012, US Department of Health and Human Services], in brief, are that there were effects favoring Head Start children on some outcome variables at the end of the Head Start year. However, these impacts did not persist. Both in the kindergarten and first grade follow-up data, released just short of three years ago[6], and the third grade follow-up data, released in December of 2012, there were no reliable differences in outcomes for children who won the lottery to attend Head Start vs. those who lost that lottery and served as the control group. In the words of the authors of the report, "by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts … in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children."[page xvii] [Emphasis added.]

If this conclusion by the authors isn’t clear enough, I’ll put it in less academic language:

There is no measurable advantage to children in elementary school of having participated in Head Start. Further, children attending Head Start remain far behind academically once they are in elementary school. Head Start does not improve the school readiness of children from low-income families.

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