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New Studies Underscore The Head Start Advantage

August 22, 2016

Washington, DC –  Studies recently released by The Brooking Institution’s Hamilton Project, The Long-term Impact of the Head Start Program, and the Georgetown University Center for Research on Children in the United States, The Effects of Tulsa’s CAP Head Start Program on Middle School Academic Outcomes and Progress, underscore the effectiveness of The Head Start Advantage.

The Hamilton Project analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and found, consistent with prior studies, that Head Start improves educational outcomes, increasing the probability that participants graduate from high school, attend college, and receive a post-secondary degree, license, or certification. Researchers also found that Head Start improves social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes, which becomes evident in adulthood measures of self-control, self-esteem, and positive parenting practices. Of particular note, they also found that Head Start participation increased positive parenting practices for each ethnic group and for participants whose mothers did not have a high school degree when compared with the outcomes of children who went to a preschool other than Head Start.

The Georgetown Study found that children who participated in Tulsa CAP Head Start as four-year-olds in the 2005-2006 academic year showed better outcomes in eighth grade. These students had significantly higher scores on the state math test, were less likely to be chronically absent, and were less likely to have repeated a grade. Some of these effects were even stronger amongst certain subgroups of students, like students of color and students who qualified for free lunch.

“These two new studies add to a robust body of research that shows The Head Start Advantage is significant and meaningful,” said National Head Start Association Executive Director Yasmina Vinci. “The Hamilton Project study is a terrific national affirmation of the long-term, positive effects of Head Start, and Tulsa’s CAP program is a case study in how local design and flexibility allows communities to tailor programs and maximize, long-term positive effects.


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The National Head Start Association is a not-for-profit organization committed to the belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in school and in life.  The opportunities offered by Head Start lead to healthier, empowered children and families, and stronger, more vibrant communities. NHSA is the voice for more than 1 million children, 200,000 staff and 1,600 Head Start grantees in the United States. Visit and follow @NatlHeadStart for more information.