Head Start Program Quiz



9 Questions

What is the primary focus of the Head Start program?

What was the original purpose of the Head Start program?

What is the eligibility criteria for the Head Start program?

What percentage of total enrollment in the Head Start program must comprise of children with disabilities?

What is the role of the Head Start Policy Council?

What is the educational requirement for lead teachers in the Head Start program?

What is the average Head Start teacher salary per year?

What is the federal budget for the Head Start program in 2011?

What has studies shown about the long-term effects of attending Head Start?


Overview of the Head Start Program in the United States

  • Head Start is a federal program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and families.

  • The program was launched in 1965 as a catch-up summer school program for low-income children to prepare them for elementary school, and later expanded to a year-round program.

  • The program serves over 1 million children and families annually in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories.

  • Eligibility is largely income-based, with families earning less than 100% of the federal poverty level qualifying for the program.

  • The program also serves children with disabilities, who must comprise 10% of their total enrollment.

  • The Head Start Policy Council, composed of parents of currently enrolled children and community representatives, makes up part of the Head Start governing body and approves several program functions, from new hires to the budget and spending.

  • Programs and services include early childhood education, health screenings, health check-ups, dental check-ups, family advocacy, social emotional development support, and parent involvement.

  • All lead teachers must have a bachelor's degree or be working towards one, with most having completed six or more courses in early-childhood education.

  • The average Head Start teacher salary is $21,000 per year, compared to the public school teacher average of $43,000 per year.

  • Studies have shown that attending Head Start has positive long-term effects on children's academic performance, high school completion, college enrollment and completion rates, and income as adults.

  • The 2011 federal budget for Head Start was $8.1 billion, with 85% devoted to direct services and no more than 15% on administration, serving approximately one million students.

  • Local grantees must provide a 20% cash/in-kind match, and grants are awarded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Regional Offices and the American Indian – Alaska Native and Migrant and Seasonal Program Branches directly to local public agencies, private organizations, Indian tribes, and school systems.Head Start Program: History, Studies, and Impact

  • Datta summarized 31 studies in 1976, concluding that the Head Start Program showed immediate improvement in IQ scores of participating children, though non-participants narrowed the difference over time.

  • Seitz, Abelson, Levine, and Zigler compared disadvantaged children enrolled and not enrolled in Head Start, using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and found that Head Start children scored higher than the controls in both home and school settings.

  • Barnett and Hustedt's 2005 literature review found mixed but generally positive evidence regarding Head Start's long-term benefits, with some studies showing decreases in grade retention and special education placements, and other studies showing sustained increases in school achievement.

  • A 1995 within-family analysis compared subjects with non-participant siblings and found that white children showed larger and longer-lasting improvements than black and Hispanic children.

  • "Head Start Fade," in which significant initial impacts quickly fade, has often been observed, as early as second and third grade. Fryer and Levitt found no evidence that Head Start participation had a lasting effect on test scores in the early years of school.

  • A 2010 report by the Department of Health and Human Services found that Head Start has benefits for both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, but the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by 1st grade.

  • According to the Administrative History of the Office of Economic Opportunity, children who finish the program and are placed into disadvantaged schools perform worse than their peers by second grade.

  • In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Besharov and Call discuss a 1998 evaluation that led to a national reevaluation of the program. The authors stated that research concluded that the current program had little meaningful impact.

  • In 2011, Time magazine's columnist Joe Klein called for the elimination of Head Start, citing an internal report that the program is costly and makes a negligible impact on children's well-being over time.

  • There is not enough government funding to provide Head Start for all eligible families, so to enroll in Head Start, families must apply and then be chosen.

  • Head Start covers families living below the federal poverty line, but there are 65% of children under the age of 6 having both their parents (or one parent, if they are a single parent) in the workforce.

  • Hotz and Wiswall’s research found that for two-parent households, childcare is the most expensive cost outside their rent or mortgage; in perspective, the median percent of income that goes towards childcare is 30%.


How much do you know about the Head Start program in the United States? Test your knowledge with our quiz! From its history and eligibility requirements to the services it provides and its impact on children's education, this quiz covers a range of topics related to Head Start. Whether you're a parent, educator, or simply interested in early childhood education, take the quiz and see how much you know about this important federal program.

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