Evidence Is Clear: Head Start Is Ineffective

House Republicans are attempting to live up to their pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal government’s current fiscal year 2011 budget. One of the proposed programs placed on the chopping block is Head Start – a “Great Society” pre-school program intended to provide a boost to disadvantaged children before they enter elementary school.

The plan is to make a significant cut to a highly ineffective program that is plagued by fraud. Using Head Start’s budget of $7.235 billion in fiscal year 2010 as the baseline, the plan is to cut $1.083 billion – a 15.0 percent cut. If President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 Head Start budget request of $8.224 billion is used as the baseline, the plan is to cut $2.072 billion—a 25.2 percent cut. Based on Head Start’s ineffectiveness, these cuts are certainly justified.

The national 2010 Head Start Impact Study found that Head Start is clearly ineffective. The study placed almost 5,000 children eligible for Head Start into two treatment conditions based on a lottery. The children who won the lottery were awarded “free” (taxpayer-paid) access to pre-kindergarten Head Start services, while the others either did not attend preschool or sought out alternatives to Head Start.

The 2010 Head Start Impact Study tracked the progress of three- and four-year-olds entering Head Start through kindergarten and the first grade. Overall, the program had little to no positive effects. For the four-year old group, compared to similarly situated children not allowed access to Head Start, access to the program failed to raise the cognitive abilities of participants on 41 measures. Specifically, the language skills, literacy, math skills, and school performance of the participating children failed to improve.



  1. Green Goat

    "ineffective programs plagued by fraud"
    Fair…but then why cut funding to NPR and PBS?

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February 17th, 2011

Staff Reporter EducationNews.org

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