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Getting Inside the "Black Box" of Head Start Quality: What Matters and What Doesn't?

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  • Janet Currie
  • Matthew Neidell

Abstract

Critics of Head Start contend that many programs spend too much money on programs extraneous to education. On the other hand, Head Start advocates argue that severely disadvantaged children need a broad range of services. Given the available evidence, it has been impossible to assess the validity of these claims. In this study, we match detailed administrative data with data on child outcomes from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, including test scores, behavior problems, and grade repetition. We find that former Head Start children have higher reading scores and are less likely to have been retained in grade where Head Start spending was higher. Holding per capita expenditures constant, children in programs that devoted higher shares of their budgets to education and health have fewer behavior problems and are less likely to have been retained in grade. However, when we examine specific educational inputs holding per capita expenditures constant, only pupil/teacher ratios matter.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10091.

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Date of creation: Nov 2003
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10091

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References

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  1. Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 1993. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," Papers 694, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Alan B. Krueger, 2000. "Economic Considerations and class size," Working Papers 975, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  3. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1996. "Does Head Start Help Hispanic Children?," NBER Working Papers 5805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Angrist, Joshua & Guryan, Jonathan, 2005. "Does Teacher Testing Raise Teacher Quality? Evidence from State Certification Requirements," IZA Discussion Papers 1500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "School Quality and the Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 6362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Janet Currie, 2000. "Early Childhood Intervention Programs: What Do We Know?," JCPR Working Papers 169, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  7. Garces, E. & Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Papers 00-20, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
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Cited by:
  1. David Deming, 2009. "Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 111-34, July.
  2. Joo, Myungkook, 2010. "Long-term effects of Head Start on academic and school outcomes of children in persistent poverty: Girls vs. boys," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 807-814, June.
  3. Magnuson, Katherine & Shager, Hilary, 2010. "Early education: Progress and promise for children from low-income families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1186-1198, September.
  4. Jens Ludwig & Deborah A. Phillips, 2007. "The Benefits and Costs of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 12973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Shapiro, Joseph & Trevino, Jorge Moreno, 2004. "Compensatory education for disadvantaged Mexican students : an impact evaluation using propensity score matching," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3334, The World Bank.
  6. Wong, Ho Lun & Luo, Renfu & Zhang, Linxiu & Rozelle, Scott, 2013. "The impact of vouchers on preschool attendance and elementary school readiness: A randomized controlled trial in rural China," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 53-65.
  7. Carlos A. Flores & Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, 2007. "Identification and Estimation of Casual Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment," Working Papers 0706, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  8. Lee, Kyunghee, 2010. "Do early academic achievement and behavior problems predict long-term effects among Head Start children?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 1690-1703, December.

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