Last week was the National Head Start Association (NHSA) Fall Leadership Institute. It was wonderful seeing so many familiar faces at the Institute and meeting many others. We heard important information at the conference on an array of topics. In the Opening Session of the Institute new studies were highlighted, both showing positive findings for participation in Head Start. These studies help counter the Head Start Impact Study that showed some benefits from participation in Head Start may fade relatively quickly.
Brookings Institute, The long-term impact of the Head Start program (August 2016) – Brookings Institute looked to build upon cornerstone early childhood studies (e.g., Perry Preschool, Abecedarian) to dig deeper into long-term outcomes from participation in Head Start. There were three main findings from the study. First, children who participate in Head Start experience improved educational outcomes. Second, there are social, emotional, and behavioral impacts apparent in adulthood. And lastly, participation in Head Start led to increased positive parenting practices.
Georgetown University, Center for Research on Children in the United States, Do the Positive Effects of Tulsa’s Head Start Program Persist Through Middle School? (August 2016) – This study explored the impact of Tulsa’s Community Action Project (CAP) Head Start programming on academic outcomes and progress in middle school. As detailed in the study, three significant findings emerged from this study. Participants in Tulsa’s CAP program scored higher on the Oklahoma math achievement test in middle school as compared to non-participants. Participants also showed lower rates of grade retention and were also less likely to be chronically absent.
In addition, an article from the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Revisiting the impact of Head Start (September 2016), stressed the importance of reanalyzing the Head Start Impact Study data. The article states that new studies show that Head Start does have a substantial impact on disadvantaged children. This is important from a policy perspective and to help make the case for increased funding for and access to high quality early childhood programs.
We recommend becoming familiar with studies highlighted above. It is exciting for the field to have new research that supports the importance of Head Start for children and families!
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