HighScope and Head Start
The HighScope Head Start Quality Research Center
Since 1995, the HighScope Educational Research Foundation has been a member of the Head Start Quality Research Center (QRC) consortium. Created by the Head Start Bureau, the consortium currently is made up of eight research institutions. In addition to HighScope, consortium members include Columbia University; the Education Development Center, Inc., in Massachusetts; Quality Counts, Inc., in Georgia; the State University of New York at Stony Brook; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Oregon; and Temple University.
The mission of the QRC consortium is to support the continuous improvement of Head Start by developing, testing, refining, and disseminating interventions to enhance the school readiness of Head Start children. To achieve the consortium’s goal, each of these institutions has been awarded a five-year grant to work in partnership with local Head Start agencies. Research teams will implement and evaluate their interventions with Head Start program partners in an initial site, then replicate the successful interventions in additional sites.
Achieving Head Start effectiveness through intensive curriculum training
HighScope’s project focuses on Head Start teachers’ professional development. It asks the question: Does intensive training in, and confirmed practice of, a proven curriculum model enable Head Start teachers to contribute significantly to children’s development? Of particular interest in this project is children’s development in the areas of literacy and conflict resolution.
To answer this question, the project provides intensive curriculum training for teachers (20 days of training plus up to an additional 10 feedback/discussion sessions) in the HighScope curriculum framework. The extent to which teachers implement the curriculum after training is measured through systematic observations of classrooms over time.
Data collection for this project also involves interviews with teachers and ongoing assessment of children’s development. In particular, children are being observed in the classroom using HighScope’s Child Observation Record assessment tool and children are taking part in direct skills assessment testing.
In addition to gathering longitudinal information about Head Start teachers, classrooms, and children, interviews with program administrators and Head Start parents are being conducted.
Since 2001, HighScope has worked with two Head Start partner agencies from southeastern Michigan — the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency and Wayne County Head Start. The first phase of the work employed a pre/post design in 20 classrooms. Phase two was an experimental design in which 34 classrooms were randomly assigned to a training treatment group or a delayed-treatment control group. Phase three of the work used a quasi-experimental design of treatment and comparison group.