Head Start Participation and School Readiness: Evidence From the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 03/2013; 50(1). DOI: 10.1037/a0032280
Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (n ≈ 6,950), a nationally representative sample of children born in 2001, we examined school readiness (academic skills and socioemotional well-being) at kindergarten entry for children who attended Head Start compared with those who experienced other types of child care (prekindergarten, other center-based care, other nonparental care, or parental care). Using propensity score matching methods and ordinary least squares regressions with rich controls, we found that Head Start participants had higher early reading and math scores than children in other nonparental care or parental care but also higher levels of conduct problems than those in parental care. Head Start participants had lower early reading scores compared with children in prekindergarten and had no differences in any outcomes compared with children in other center-based care. Head Start benefits were more pronounced for children who had low initial cognitive ability or parents with low levels of education or who attended Head Start for more than 20 hr per week. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
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ABSTRACT: We commend Paul for undertaking an investigation that concerns critical clinical and theoretical issues. This type of longitudinal developmental research is exactly what is needed to advance the scientific basis of our profession. We also respect Paul's attempt to construct a firm bridge between her findings and their clinical implications. The necessary and sufficient data that completely solve a clinical problem are rarely available. Because clinicians do not have the luxury of waiting until the best data imaginable are collected and analyzed before acting, it is helpful for researchers to generalize their results to the extent possible. However, because of its potential clinical, economic, and educational implications, we believe that a broad social policy like Paul's "watch and see" recommendation should be based on unambiguous evidence. We have suggested that a number of the children in Paul's cohort may have been within the normal range in language development at the beginning of the study. Without individual data, it is impossible for us to know whether or not this was the case. To the extent that our suspicions hold true, Paul's study tells us that a number of children who function at the low end of the normal range of language development between 20 and 34 months stay within the normal range throughout the preschool and early school-age years. Paul's suggestion of "watch and see" seems reasonable enough for the 74% of the children who tested within the normal range by kindergarten and first grade, but it may not have been sufficient for the 26% who did not. We believe children like those in this latter group would probably benefit from preschool language intervention and that very valuable language learning time could be lost if Paul's general "watch and see" policy were implemented. It is possible that children with good outcomes and children with language delays that were significant and persistent had different profiles with respect to expressive vocabulary, receptive vocabulary, speech, and communicative intentions at the onset of the study. If so, one broad social policy may not be sufficient. We have asked Paul to provide additional data about the nature of the language difficulties exhibited by the children at the outset of her study, the predictors of continued language delay, and the results of language intervention efforts. It is our hope that Paul can provide the kinds of additional data and analyses we have requested in this discussion, and that this data can serve as the basis for refinements in definitions of early language delay, decisions about providing clinical services to very young children, and methods for analyzing intervention efficacy.
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ABSTRACT: Using a sample of low-income children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (N ≈ 4,350) and propensity-score weighted regressions, we analyzed children's nutrition, weight, and health care receipt at kindergarten entry, comparing 1) Head Start participants and all non-participants, and 2) Head Start participants and children in prekindergarten, other center-based care, other non-parental care, or only parental care. Overall, we found that compared to all non-participants, Head Start participants were more likely to receive dental checkups but showed no differences in getting medical checkups; they were also more likely to have healthy eating patterns but showed no differences in Body Mass Index (BMI), overweight, or obesity. However, these results varied depending on the comparison group-Head Start participants showed lower BMI scores and lower probability of overweight compared to those in other non-parental care, and the effects on healthy eating and dental checkups differed by comparison group.
Article: Road to Readiness[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: This study utilized data from the Michigan component of the National Early Head Start Research and Evaluation study to examine toddlers' joint attention at 14 months (parent report measure of toddlers' initiating behaviors, e.g., extends arm to show you something he or she is holding, reaches out and gives you a toy he or she has been holding, and points at something interesting) as a mediator of the relations between early mother–child interactions (e.g., mother and child behaviors in response to one another's cues) and later school readiness skills in a low-income sample (N = 127 mother–child dyads). Understanding relations between early parent–child interactions, joint attention, and later school readiness skills is critical to identifying developmental paths of economically at-risk children. Results showed that toddlers' joint attention behaviors at 14 months partially mediated the path between mother–child interaction at 14 months and later school readiness, measured by children's emotion regulation, social-cognition, language development, and literacy and mathematics academic outcomes, at approximately 5 years of age. Results suggest the important roles of early mother–child interactions in low-income families and joint attention in promoting school readiness skills.
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