We went looking for articles and studies because, based on our experiences and research, there is cause for concern. In today’s blog report we share several different links so you can read for yourself. We’ll summarize each article.
According to Annie Holquist at Fee.org the answer is yes. Here’s the link to her article: https://fee.org/articles/head-start-programs-are-setting-kids-up-for-failure/
What’s the takeaway after reading the article?
“Enthusiasm for Pre-K dampened a bit with the release of two studies, one from 2012 which studied children in a Head Start program and another from 2016 which studied children in Tennessee’s statewide preschool program. The Head Start study found that its children were more inclined to behavioral problems than those who did not participate. The Tennessee study, on the other hand, found that participants did worse academically several years into school than those who had not participated.”
An article at The Atlantic written by Lillian Mongeau titled: The Never-Ending Struggle to Improve Head Start
“The only long-term study of the program, called the Head Start Impact Study, began following enrollees in 2002 and stayed with them through third grade. Researchers found that by third grade, all the academic advances the children had made during their Head Start year had faded.” Of particular interest to us locally is the background on the program in Portland, OR. They spent over $10,000 per pre-school student and said they needed more money to do better.
Finally, for sake of brevity, here is a link to the 2010 report from the US Dept of Human Services: USDept_HS_Early_Learning_impact_study_final._2010pdf
The document is 420 pages in length so you may not read it. What were the net takeaways?
- The Head Start Impact Study was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 84 grantee/delegate agencies and included nearly 5,000 newly entering, eligible 3- and 4-year-old children who were randomly assigned
- Data collection began in fall 2002 and continued through 2006, following children from program application through the spring of their 1st grade year
- The original program started in 1965 so it’s been going on, as of the 2010 report, for 45 years
- While there were very few statistically significant differences in experiences for the Head Start and control group children
- Those who did show any improvement came from low-income environments
So…does early education effort and money return a value that make it worth it? You be the judge. There will be a few who show long-term value but most everything washes out by 3rd grade. So, rather than pouring money into baby sitting perhaps accept the fact that until 3rd grade children have a wide range of development differences that we need to accept. Perhaps use the K-3 time frame to nurture but not push. Support and assist and set the stage for children to look forward to education rather than avoid it?