Year of publication
Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis
A study investigated the relationship between the quality of schools subsequently attended by adolescents and their preschool experience. In particular, the study differentiated the characteristics of middle-grade schools attended by 8th grade students who had experienced either Head Start, other preshools, or no preschool. School quality was defined broadly, in terms of social composition, academic rigor, safety, and social relations. After taking into account family background and demographics, the study found that former Head Start attendees are being educated in schools of significantly lower quality than are their 8th-grade counterparts who did not attend preschool, and particularly compared to peers who attended other preschools. No matter how beneficial the Head Start experience was initially for its participants, such benefits are likely to be undermined if these students are thereafter exposed to lower quality schooling. The particularly low quality of middle-grade schools attended by former Head Start participants explains, at least in part, why Head Start effects often fade out over time.