Head Start Transition to Elementary School: Is the Early Intervention Sustained?
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Poverty is a social context that has direct impact on students' performance since the conditions associated with poverty (brain development, social interactions, nutrition, and emotional environment) all play a role in developmental outcomes. Head Start is an early intervention program designed to address the unique needs of students from poverty. The Head Start Impact Study (DHHS, ACF, 2012) and other research (Lee, Brooks-Gunn, and Schnur, 1988; Ramey and Ramey, 2004) indicate that the academic achievement of low-income students who participated in Head Start is mixed as they move through elementary school. The purpose of the Head Start program is to prepare students with skills so that they begin kindergarten on an even playing field with their more advantaged peers (DHHS, ACF, 2013). Although students who participate in Head Start begin kindergarten with the appropriate readiness skills, initial gains are not maintained as they move through elementary school (Burkham and Lee, 2002). The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine the effects of the Head Start program as its students move through kindergarten and first grade. In the study, I analyzed data to find relationships between student performance on the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) (University of Virginia, 2010) and classroom practices that led to high achievement. Two Title I schools were studied. PALS scores were analyzed using t-tests, ANOVAs and multiple regressions. Reading performance in second grade was measured using scores from the Developmental Reading Assessment (Beave, 2006). Qualitative data were collected through interviews, focus groups, and document reviews. These data were utilized to make connections between the results of PALS and reading scores and the best practices being used in schools that showed strong results for the kindergarten and first grade students in the study. By triangulating data, I uncovered relationships between best practice strategies being used in high performing schools and achievement of former Head Start enrollees.
- Doctoral Dissertations