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Secondary Analysis of Head Start Data
SRI conducted research to answer important questions about children in Head Start programs with the highest risk for poor health, developmental, and school readiness outcomes.
SRI received a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, to conduct a two-year secondary analysis of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES 2000) dataset. SRI conducted research to answer important questions about four subgroups of children participating in Head Start programs with the highest risk for poor health, developmental, and school readiness outcomes. The four subgroups included children who are dual language learners, those with disabilities and other special needs, those with health concerns, and children confronting cumulative environmental risks.
For these four subgroups, SRI identified variables related to child characteristics and child outcomes, as well as family and program factors that mediate between the two. The research questions were aimed at understanding whether and how program and family characteristics relate to variations in child outcomes within subgroups. The approach involved descriptive analyses, data reduction to create summary variables, and multivariate analyses to examine factors related to child outcomes.
The FACES 2000 dataset provided a unique opportunity to conduct more complex modeling and multivariate analyses than had been done to date, analyses that capitalized on the longitudinal nature of the data and the multiple domains and repeated measures used. For each at-risk subgroup of children, analyses yielded:
- A strong descriptive understanding of the children, their families, and their Head Start program experiences
- Models of how these factors relate to positive outcomes
- Identification of the extent to which that combination of factors was similar to the factors that explained optimal outcomes for children participating in Head Start who were not in the four subgroups of primary interest
This overall approach provided new information that has implications for improving services for populations currently served by Head Start and at highest risk for poor developmental and school readiness outcomes. This project also generated important information about the extent to which children in Head Start are identified as having a disability and how widespread developmental delays are for many children participating in this program.