Policy Documents

Third Grade Follow - up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services –
October 1, 2010

Since its beginning in 1965 as a part of the War on Poverty, Head Start’s goal has been to boost the school readiness of low-income children. Based on a “whole child” model, the program provides comprehensive services that include preschool education; medical, dental, and mental health care; nutrition services; and efforts to help parents foster their child’s development.

Head Start services are designed to be responsive to each child’s and family’s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage.

In the 1998 reauthorization of Head Start, Congress mandated that the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) determine, on a national level, the impact of Head Start on the children it serves. As noted by the Advisory Committee on Head Start Research, this legislative mandate required that the impact study address two main research questions:

 “What difference does Head Start make to key outcomes of development and learning (and in particular, the multiple domains of school readiness) for low-income children? What difference does Head Start make to parental practices that contribute to children’s school readiness?”

“Under what circumstances does Head Start achieve the greatest impact? What works for which children? What Head Start services are most related to impact?”

The Head Start Impact Study Final Report addressed these questions by reporting on the impacts of Head Start on children and families during the children’s preschool, kindergarten, and 1st grade years. This Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report addresses these same questions by looking at longer-term effects through the end of 3rd grade.