The Literacy Skills of Children with One versus Two Years of Head Start Attendance
Research Findings: This quantitative study was designed to investigate whether children who return to a Head Start program (for a second year or from an Early Head Start Program) have different literacy skills and perform better than newly enrolled children, and to compare returning childrenâ€™s literacy skills from rural, suburban and urban centers. This study uses the Language and Emerging Literacy Assessment (LELA) and analyzes the literacy scores of 2,305 3- and 4-year olds, from 39 Head Start centers in Alabama. The results reveal that returning children have higher literacy skills, but the return effect in centers differs depending on centerâ€™s location, percentage of 3 year olds, and percentage of ESL children. Practice or Policy: The results indicate that policymakers should consider the benefits of more than one year in a Head Start program. However, another policy issue is the differences in quality and resources among Head Start centers. In our results, the benefits of returning to a Head Start were higher in an urban than a rural location, suggesting that children who return to a center in an urban region may receive a higher quality education than in a center in other regions.
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