Head Start

Head Start is the national program designed to help America’s poorest kids overcome the negative effects of poverty. The program’s goal is to provide education, health, nutrition, and social services for disadvantaged children and their families. However, the program’s effectiveness in meeting this objective has been the subject of debate. Head Start advocates claim that 40 years of research have proven that the program definitely improves the lives of the children it serves.

For example, studies indicate that Head Start graduates, by the spring of their kindergarten year, are at or near the national average in early reading and close to meeting national norms in early math and vocabulary knowledge. In addition, a recent University of California study concluded that every tax dollar invested in Head Start saves society nearly $9 in other costs.

Oddly, however, critics argue that Head Start has achieved no better results than day care. In fact, they persist in spreading the myth that the Head Start advantage is only temporary. Admittedly, initial IQ gains produced by Head Start during a child’s period of attendance do gradually fade out, but this is true for any preschool education program beginning after age three. Besides, IQ is only one contributing factor for success. Other measures of school progress indicate that Head Start graduates repeat grades less often, are placed in special education classes less frequently, and graduate from high school more often than disadvantaged non-Head Start children. (W. Steven Barnett, “Head Start: Research Shows the Way,” National Head Start Association, January 29, 2003, http://www.nhsa.org/research/research_hearing_information.htm)

  1. The author shows a bias in favor of the Head Start program.
  2. The author is biased against the Head Start program.
  3. The author reveals no personal bias.

What evidence from the text supports your response?


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