Head start participation and school readiness: Evidence from the early childhood longitudinal study–birth cohort.
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) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)