Another Head Start Failure

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

When you fine tune the studies on Head Start, the program’s shortcomings only become more readily apparent. “Defying conventional wisdom, a statewide study on Tennessee’s voluntary state preschool program shows children who participated in the program didn’t perform any better than children who didn’t attend pre-K,” Lindsay Marchello writes in The Carolina Journal. “The study is the first large randomized control test of a state funded pre-K program.”

“Vanderbilt Institute Research Professors Mark Lipsey, Dale Farran, and Kelley Durkin conducted a randomized control test on 3,131 eligible children who applied for admission at one of 79 oversubscribed VPK programs in Tennessee. Although the study found positive short-term achievement by the end of pre-K, those gains disappeared as VPK children entered elementary school and even turned negative by the third grade.”

Gee where have we heard that before? Like in just about every Head Start study. “What researchers found is VPK participants were designated as needing special education services at a slightly higher rate than the control group,” Marchello writes. “This is one possible explanation for the outcomes of the study, as the researchers conclude that ‘such identification may then lead to lower educational expectations and levels of instruction for these children.'”

“The researchers said another explanation is some children may be better off academically if they stay at home instead of attending pre-K.”