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Quantifying Variation in Head Start Effects on Young Children's Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills Using Data from the National Head Start Impact Study

107 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2015  

Howard S. Bloom

MDRC

Christina Weiland

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Date Written: March 31, 2015

Abstract

This paper uses data from the Head Start Impact Study (HSIS), a nationally representative multisite randomized trial, to quantify variation in effects of Head Start during 2002-2003 on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes relative to the effects of other local alternatives, including parent care. We find that (1) treatment and control group differences in child care and educational settings varied substantially across Head Start centers (program sites); (2) Head Start exhibited a compensatory pattern of program effects that reduced disparities in cognitive outcomes among program-eligible children; (3) Head Start produced a striking pattern of subgroup effects that indicates it substantially compensated dual language learners and Spanish-speaking children with low pretest scores (two highly overlapping groups) for their limited prior exposure to English; and (4) Head Start centers ranged from much more effective to much less effective than their local alternatives, including parent care.

Keywords: randomized trial, multisite trial, impact variation, Head Start

JEL Classification: I21, C40

Suggested Citation

Bloom, Howard S. and Weiland, Christina, Quantifying Variation in Head Start Effects on Young Children's Cognitive and Socio-Emotional Skills Using Data from the National Head Start Impact Study (March 31, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2594430 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2594430

Howard S. Bloom (Contact Author)

MDRC ( email )

19th Floor
16 East 34 Street
New York, NY 10016
United States

Christina Weiland

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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