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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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Publication status: published as Currie, Janet & Neidell, Matthew, 2007. "Getting inside the "Black Box" of Head Start quality: What matters and what doesn't," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 83-99, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10091

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  1. Currie, J & Thomas, D, 1996. "Does Head Start Help Hispanic Children?," Papers, RAND - Labor and Population Program 96-17, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  2. Currie, Janet & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 341-64, June.
  3. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F34-F63, February.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D. & Guryan, Jonathan, 2008. "Does teacher testing raise teacher quality? Evidence from state certification requirements," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 483-503, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 2000. "School Quality and the Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 755-774.
  7. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers, RAND Corporation Publications Department 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
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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. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Flores, Carlos A. & Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso, 2009. "Identification and Estimation of Causal Mechanisms and Net Effects of a Treatment under Unconfoundedness," IZA Discussion Papers 4237, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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. Jens Ludwig & Deborah A. Phillips, 2007. "The Benefits and Costs of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 12973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.

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