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View Diary: Good news, sequester-style: Head Start cuts 57,000 kids (49 comments)

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  •  Cutting this is just stupid (3+ / 0-)
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    IrishGreg, wxorknot, mapamp

    not inadvisable, not regrettable, out and out fucking stupid.  Study after study has shown the benefits of early childhood education, which is why people who can afford it send their kids to pre-school not just day care.  If we had any sense at all we would have public pre-school.  Instead we cut it and the education grifters work to destroy the rest of public education.

    This cannot end well.

    •  The evidence on Head Start is not very clear (0+ / 0-)

      The best available data show very limited persisting benefit past kindergarten.  

      Head Start Impact Study and Follow-up, 2000-2012

      Key Findings
      Looking across the full study period, from the beginning of Head Start through 3rd grade, the evidence is clear that access to Head Start improved children’s preschool outcomes across developmental domains, but had few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Providing access to Head Start was found to have a positive impact on the types and quality of preschool programs that children attended, with the study finding statistically significant differences between the Head Start group and the control group on every measure of children’s preschool experiences in the first year of the study. In contrast, there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group.
      For me, that it is puzzling, but it shouldn't be ignored.  This article proposes some possible explanations:

      Interpreting the conflicting evidence on Head Start effectiveness

      What's amazing to me is that there has only been a single randomized trial in the 40+ years of this huge program.

      •  So turns out (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        the control group for that study includes kids in other subsidized preschool programs, not kids who didn't have any preschool.

        In many cases, Head Start preschool is run by the same people running state subsidized preschool, so it is the same program. No surprise that differences are minimal.

        There is a long term study that shows that kids in quality preschool programs have better outcomes as adults.

        Nearly every middle class parent considers preschool to be an essential part of their parenting plan. If this is the case, why would we want to deny preschool to kids in poverty? Head Start is only available to kids living below the poverty line, and sadly, there aren't enough slots for them all.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:12:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's very hard to do a study like this (0+ / 0-)

          You can't randomize the kids to "no treatment" if there is a likely benefit that is being withheld.    Newer standards of research ethics has made those kinds of comparisons harder, which is mostly a good thing.  And really, you want to compare the intervention to what the kids would have had otherwise, which would have been a mix of various types of preschool settings, childcare, and stay at home.

          Nonetheless, I think a comparison of Head Start with other subsidized preschool is still meaningful.  We are investing a lot of  money into Head Start.  If we can get comparable results for less, that's a good thing.   If it is not cost effective, then spend the money on other children's services and education that does a comparable job for less

          They did find some positive effects, but they weren't sustained.  That shows the programs may be working as intended early on, which the teachers and oarents can attest to, but they may need to be redesigned so the kids continue to benefit later.

          The trouble with those long-term followup studies you mention is the groups are not likely to be comparable on many important predictors of success, even after controlling for known and measured confounders.

          The US gov't spent a lot of money for the randomized followup study.  I'd hate to just see the findings ignored.  But I'd hate to see them merely used to justify slashing early childhood education in the name of budget balancing.  

          •  Your assumption is off base, I think (0+ / 0-)

            That Head Start costs more than those other programs. If anything, the problem is that we substantially underpay the teachers and other staff interacting with the kids. It is in fact very cost-effective and right in line with what the state programs can provide.

            It's worth asking what is the best way for us to spend and arrange this money, but the problem is that when these slots go away, those kids are just not going to be served.

            It's also worth asking if our measures in 3rd-5th grades are asking the right questions. Those grades are a place where we frequently see a retrenchment in ability; it's the transition where kids have to read to learn instead of learning to read. I cannot think of any interventions tested that show improvement in test scores at those grades, which is itself an interesting question.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 02:15:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  This was an interesting radio program (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        about Head Start effectiveness. You might enjoy it:

        California communities are being forced to cut preschool enrollment and other services for poor children in the wake of cuts to the national Head Start program. We'll talk about the impact of the federal sequestration cuts on Head Start -- and we'll debate the effectiveness of the program. How well does Head Start prepare disadvantaged kids for kindergarten and beyond?

        Host: Dave Iverson

        Belia Gonzalez, parent of a five-year-old son in Santa Clara County Head Start and member of the executive committee of the Parent Council
        Lillian Mongeau, early education reporter for EdSource
        Rick Mockler, executive director of the California Head Start Association
        Russ Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution and former director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education (appointed by President George W. Bush)

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 11:14:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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