Does Head Start work? The debate over the Head Start Impact Study, explained

A publication from the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center Chalkboard initiative dives deeply into the mixed reports around the Head Start Impact Study, with attention to the methodological issues in the study. Due to challenges in random assignment in the original study, some “control group” students actually enrolled in Head Start, and vice versa. Using sophisticated modeling techniques, the Brookings report concludes that Head Start indeed improves cognitive skills. The report also suggests that while increasing experimental education research can be useful, researchers and policymakers should also retain a focus on the methodical rigor of the actual study, not just its design.