Head Start has long-term benefits , according to an analysis by Brookings’ Hamilton Project.
Head Start participants are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and receive a post-secondary degree or certification, the study found.
As adults, they’re more likely to use “positive parenting” practices with their children.
Especially for black children, “Head Start also causes social, emotional, and behavioral development in participants that are evident in adulthood measures of self-control, self-esteem and positive parenting.”
Head Start participants were compared with siblings who attended other preschool programs or none at all.
The analysis suggests that the alternative to Head Start is a very bad preschool, writes Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. “Those green bars . . . show Head Start having a bigger effect compared to other preschools than it does compared to no preschool at all. That can only happen if the other preschools were collectively worse than doing nothing.”
Of course, “doing nothing” means spending time with Mom or Grandma. It’s not surprising that low-income mothers often have to settle for low-quality preschools.
“Children who attended Head Start had higher test scores on state math tests” in eighth grade, says Deborah Phillips, a Georgetown psychology professor. “They were less likely to be retained and less likely to display chronic absenteeism.”
Latino students, including those from Spanish-speaking homes, showed gains. However, black boys did not benefit and there were no gains in reading.
Boston’s preschool success is “percolating up” to higher grades, writes Lillian Mongeau.