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ERIC Number: ED567818
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Jan
Pages: 39
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Moneyball for Head Start: Using Data, Evidence, and Evaluation to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families
Mead, Sara; Mitchel, Ashley LiBetti
Bellwether Education Partners
Head Start is a valuable federal program that improves the lives of our nation's most vulnerable children and their families. Research shows that Head Start programs improve children's learning at school entry and have a positive impact on long-term life outcomes. Research also suggests that Head Start could have a stronger impact on children's early learning, school, and life outcomes. The key question is, how can policymakers and practitioners maximize outcomes for Head Start children and their families? This paper--the product of a combined effort of Results for America, Bellwether Education Partners, the National Head Start Association, and the Volcker Alliance--outlines a vision for a continuous improvement approach that uses data, evidence, and evaluation to improve outcomes at all levels of the Head Start program. Although realization of the vision will require a multiyear commitment to research and cycles of experimentation to address outstanding technical and measurement challenges there are steps that Congress and the administration can take now to both advance this vision in the near term and support the research needed to fully realize it in the future. These steps include: (1) Congress and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should make data-informed, continuous improvement a key priority in any legislative or regulatory policy action on Head Start; (2) The Office of Head Start and the philanthropic sector should invest in building grantee capacity to use data to improve performance; (3) Federal policymakers should initiate an iterative process to develop robust, common performance indicators for Head Start and should engage researchers, the philanthropic sector, and Head Start grantees as partners in this process; (4) Federal research agencies should work with researchers and the philanthropic sector to support the development of solid, trusted metrics of Head Start child outcomes, family outcomes, and program capacity; (5) The Office of Head Start should provide transparent, interactive, public reporting on grantee performance; (6) Once the Office of Head Start has developed a sufficiently robust system to measure grantee performance, it should use this system to differentiate grantee performance; (7) The Office of Head Start should continue, learn from, and build on efforts to make program monitoring more performance focused and less compliance oriented; (8) The Secretary of Health and Human Services should implement a robust research agenda for Head Start, and Congress should increase the cap on Head Start research, demonstration, and evaluation spending from $20 million to 1 percent of total appropriations; and (9) Congress should authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant additional flexibility to allow cohorts of programs working with researchers to pilot new approaches to serving children and families.
Bellwether Education Partners. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Policymakers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Bellwether Education Partners; Results for America; National Head Start Association, Alexandria, VA.; Volcker Alliance