Evaluating Head Start

Does it help poor children and their parents?


Since its founding in 1965, the federal preschool program has offered poor children and their parents comprehensive services ranging from health care to parenting education. Preliminary data from the first nationwide appraisal of the program show that Head Start youngsters do better on some intellectual, behavioral and health measures than similar children not enrolled in Head Start. But some critics say the program should dispense with health care and parental education in order to focus on pre-academic skills. To improve Head Start's performance, the Bush administration proposed turning it over to the states, but Congress refused; instead it wants to require half of all Head Start teachers to obtain B.A. degrees or higher by 2011. Meanwhile, states are launching their own preschool programs, raising new ...

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