This past week, President Obama warned Americans that, if the sequester occurs, hundreds of thousands of children will lose access to Project Head Start. A new study, however, published by the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has found that students who participate in the $8 billion Head Start program actually fare worse, in some ways, than students who do not.
The study also found that positive effects of the program are not sustained into elementary school.
According to the study, mandated by Congress and published at the end of 2012, the Head Start program “seeks to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children from severely economically disadvantaged families.”
However, when researchers evaluated 4,667 elementary students, they concluded that the program provided no measurable benefit for children by the time they reached the third grade compared to those children who were in a similar socio-economic group but were not in the program. Of the children who were not enrolled in Head Start, about 60 percent received another form of preschool education, the quality of which was judged to be generally inferior to that provided in Head Start.
The large-scale study found that children who participated in the Head Start program actually did worse in math and had more problems with social interaction by the third grade than children who were not in the program.