oversight

Head Start: Curriculum Use and Individual Child Assessment in Cognitive and Language Development

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-09-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                 United States General Accounting Office

GAO              Report to Congressional Requesters




September 2003
                 HEAD START

                 Curriculum Use and
                 Individual Child
                 Assessment in
                 Cognitive and
                 Language
                 Development




GAO-03-1049
Contents


Letter                                                                                                 1


Appendix I   Congressional Briefing Slides: Head Start                                                 5




             Abbreviations

             FACES             Family and Child Experiences Survey
             HHS               Department of Health and Human Services



             This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
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             reproduce this material separately.




             Page i                                                          GAO-03-1049 Head Start
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   September 12, 2003

                                   The Honorable George Miller
                                   Ranking Minority Member
                                   Committee on Education and the Workforce
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The Honorable Dale E. Kildee
                                   Ranking Minority Member
                                   Subcommittee on Education Reform
                                   Committee on Education and the Workforce
                                   House of Representatives

                                   To enhance Head Start’s contribution to the school readiness of children
                                   from low-income families, the 1998 amendments to the Head Start Act
                                   provided for updating the Head Start performance standards to ensure
                                   that when children leave the program, they have the basic skills needed to
                                   start school.1 Head Start’s performance standards for education and early
                                   childhood development require that the programs’ curricula support each
                                   child’s cognitive and language development, including emergent literacy
                                   skills. In preschool children, cognitive and language development refers to
                                   the fundamental abilities needed to reason and to speak a language. Skills
                                   in emergent literacy are the precursors to reading, such as learning the
                                   letters of the alphabet. The curriculum Head Start programs use must meet
                                   the definition for a written curriculum in Head Start’s performance
                                   standards. Programs have the option of developing their own curriculum,
                                   using a curriculum developed locally or by the state education agency, and
                                   adopting or adapting a model developed by an educational publisher.
                                   Programs also may use teacher mentoring and individual child assessment
                                   to help implement the curriculum.

                                   As reauthorization of Head Start approached, you asked us to answer
                                   these questions about Head Start programs’ efforts to prepare children for
                                   school:




                                   1
                                    Pub. L. 105-285, Title I, Sec. 108 (amending sec. 641A of the Head Start Act).




                                   Page 1                                                                 GAO-03-1049 Head Start
1. To what extent have Head Start programs made progress in meeting
   performance standards for cognitive and language development since
   they took effect in January 1998?

2. To what extent has local Head Start programs’ use of curricula
   changed since the performance standards for children’s cognitive and
   language development were issued?

3. To what extent have local Head Start programs used teacher
   mentoring and individual child assessments to support curriculum
   planning?

To determine what progress has been made in meeting the new standards,
we used data from Head Start’s compliance reviews. We analyzed the
percentage of Head Start programs that met overall performance
standards for curriculum and the percentage that met seven specific
performance standards for cognitive and language development. To
examine local Head Start programs’ use of curricula, mentoring, and
individual child assessments, we analyzed data from the Department of
Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Family and Child Experiences Survey
(FACES). FACES is a series of longitudinal surveys of nationally
representative samples of Head Start children.2 We used data from the
spring 1998 and fall 2000 teacher interviews, which contained information
about types of Head Start curricula and classroom activities, the
percentage of teachers who received mentoring visits, the percentage of
Head Start children who received individual child assessments and how
teachers used the assessment information. Although limitations in the
FACES data did not allow us to determine change in curricula and
classroom activities over time, the data did permit us to describe Head
Start curricula and classroom activities at two points in time. Information
on mentoring and individual child assessment was available only for fall
2000. We also interviewed officials in 9 of 10 HHS regional offices about
Head Start programs’ curriculum practices and analyzed HHS’ 2002
Program Information Report data on curricula. The Program Information
Report contains basic information about Head Start programs’ operating
characteristics and services. All Head Start and Early Head Start programs



2
Nicholas Zill, et al., Head Start FACES (2000): A Whole-Child Perspective on
Program Performance, Fourth Progress Report, A report prepared for Child
Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation,
Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human
Services, May 2003, provides additional details about the FACES sample design.



Page 2                                                  GAO-03-1049 Head Start
are required to submit data for the Program Information Report annually.
We conducted our work between February and June 2003 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards.

We provided a briefing on the results of our work to staff of the House
Committee on Education and the Workforce on May 15, 2003. We provided
additional information in a second briefing on June 6, 2003. This report
formally conveys the information provided during those briefings.

In summary, we found that data from Head Start compliance reviews
conducted during 2000-02 indicated that most programs met performance
standards for overall curriculum and for cognitive and language
development. Of all 1,532 programs in HHS’s 10 regions, HHS determined
that the highest percent found out of compliance with any one of seven
specific performance standards for cognitive and language development
was 10 percent. Among the programs cited for compliance issues related
to these standards, the areas most in need of improvement included
(1) using classroom activities and materials that were sufficiently adapted
to each child’s developmental level and (2) using continuous observation
and assessment to support each child’s instruction in cognitive and
literacy skills.

For the most part, Head Start teachers reported that children were in
programs that used a specific curriculum or combinations of curricula; in
1998 and 2000, the largest percentages were in programs that used either
High Scope or Creative Curriculum. Different methodologies for each
survey precluded making comparisons over time. In 2000, children were
more likely to listen to stories for which they see print, to learn about
prepositions, new words, the conventions of print and letters, and to retell
stories on a daily or almost daily basis, than to experience other language
development activities, such as working on phonics, writing their name, or
learning about rhyming words and word families.

Of those who had a mentor, teachers of about two-thirds of Head Start
children received mentoring visits, weekly or bi-weekly. In 2000, teachers
of an estimated 78 percent of Head Start children used individual
assessments in their small group instruction and in overall curriculum
planning. Almost 90 percent of Head Start children received individual
assessments in cognitive and language development. About half were
assessed in mathematics and emergent literacy. The children received
individual assessments at least once a year.




Page 3                                                GAO-03-1049 Head Start
We provided a draft of this report to HHS for review and comment. HHS
indicated that it had no general comments but provided written technical
comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.


We are sending copies of this report to relevant congressional committees
and other interested parties. We also will make copies available to others
upon request. This report will also be available on GAO’s Web site at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please contact me
or Betty Ward-Zukerman at (202) 512-7215. Sara Edmondson, Luann Moy,
Christopher Moriarity, and Elsie Picyk also made key contributions to this
report.




Marnie S. Shaul
Director, Education, Workforce, and
 Income Security Issues




Page 4                                                GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                     Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                     Head Start



Head Start




   Briefing for Congressional Requesters
          May 15, and June 6, 2003



  HEAD START: Curriculum Use and Individual Child Assessment in
             Cognitive and Language Development




                     Page 5                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                                  Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                  Head Start




Introduction


The 1998 amendments to the Head Start Act provided for updating performance
standards to ensure that Head Start children leave the program ready for school.
Head Start’s performance standards for education and early childhood
development require that programs’ curricula support each child’s cognitive and
language development, including emergent literacy skills.1
In preschool children, cognitive and language development refer to advances in
basic abilities in thinking and speaking. Skills in emergent literacy are the
precursors to reading, such as learning the letters of the alphabet.
As reauthorization of Head Start approached, you asked us to determine the
progress of local Head Start programs in meeting the performance standards for
children’s cognitive and language development and to describe their use of
curricula, mentoring for teachers, and child assessments to foster children’s
development.
1Pub.   L. 105-285, Title I, Sec. 108 (amending sec. 641A of the Head Start Act).


                                                                                                                 2




                                                  Page 6                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                          Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                          Head Start




Key Questions


1. To what extent have Head Start programs made progress in meeting
   performance standards for cognitive and language development since they took
   effect in January 1998?
2. To what extent has local Head Start programs’ use of curricula changed since
   the performance standards for children’s cognitive and language development
   were issued?
3. To what extent have local Head Start programs used teacher mentoring and
   individual child assessments to support curriculum planning?




                                                                                        3




                          Page 7                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                           Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                           Head Start




Scope and Methodology


We determined what progress has been made in meeting the new standards by
analyzing data from the Head Start Monitoring and Tracking System (HSMTS), an
automated database that quantifies and tabulates the results of Head Start on-site
compliance reviews.
We examined local Head Start programs’ use of curricula and individual child
assessment practices by:
 • Analyzing data from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS)
   Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). FACES is a series of
   longitudinal surveys of nationally representative samples of Head Start children.
   Employing multiple data collection instruments, the survey includes
   assessments of children, interviews with their parents, observation of
   classrooms, and interviews with teachers. We used data from the spring 1998
   and fall 2000 teacher interviews, which contained information about curriculum
   use, teachers, and child assessment practices.

                                                                                         4




                           Page 8                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                           Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                           Head Start




Scope and Methodology (continued)


 • Producing weighted estimates from the 1998 and 2000 FACES teacher
   interview data using child weights developed by the FACES project team. A
   weight is the factor we used to make estimates for the Head Start child
   population from the FACES sample data. Because we were analyzing data for
   both 1998 and 2000, we used the same type of weights for both years.
 • Obtaining margins of error for estimates using FACES data at the 95 percent
   confidence level.
 • Interviewing officials responsible for Head Start compliance reviews in 9 of
   HHS’s 10 regional offices about Head Start programs’ curriculum practices.
 • Analyzing HHS’s 2002 Program Information Report data regarding use of
   curricula and child assessment instruments.
We conducted our work between February and June 2003 in accordance with
generally accepted government auditing standards.

                                                                                        5




                           Page 9                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                           Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                           Head Start




Scope and Methodology (continued)


Limitations
• We did not review Head Start’s performance standards, apart from identifying
  those related to cognitive and language development, or independently assess
  compliance by Head Start programs.
• Using existing administrative and FACES data, our review provides information
  about the Head Start program at the national level, focusing on the 50 states and
  the District of Columbia. Our review does not examine Head Start programs for
  migrants, Native Americans, or the Early Head Start program.
• The FACES samples were designed to be nationally representative of Head
  Start children. Teachers were included in the survey sample if they were
  teachers of sampled children, yielding a probability sample. However, because
  the probability sample of teachers that resulted also yielded high standard errors,
  our estimates from the teacher interview data were less precise than would have
  been true had the sample been designed primarily to collect data about teachers.

                                                                                        6




                           Page 10                                      GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                              Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                              Head Start




Summary of Results


• Data from Head Start compliance reviews indicated that most programs met performance
  standards for overall curriculum and for seven specific standards for cognitive and
  language development.
• For the most part, Head Start children were in programs that used a specific curriculum or
  combinations of curricula; in 1998 and 2000, the largest percentages of Head Start children
  were in programs that used either High Scope or Creative Curriculum. However, because
  the surveys in each time period used different methodologies, we could not determine if
  these percentages represented an actual change over time. The FACES data indicated
  that, in each time period, most Head Start children had teachers who reported offering
  basic cognitive or language development activities daily or almost daily, but provided no
  additional information on how the curricula were implemented.
• Of those who had a mentor, teachers for about two-thirds of Head Start children reported
  being observed by a mentor, once every week or every 2 weeks. Teachers of an estimated
  78 percent of Head Start children reported using information from individual assessments
  for small group instruction and in overall curriculum planning. Almost 90 percent of Head
  Start children were assessed in cognitive and language development; about half were
  assessed in mathematics and emergent literacy.
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                           Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                           Head Start




Background


• Head Start programs are administered locally but must comply with federal
  performance standards in a number of categories, such as education and early
  childhood development, child health and safety, and family and community
  partnerships. The standards for education and early childhood development
  pertain to curriculum and are designed to foster school readiness in all areas of
  social competence, including social, emotional, and physical, as well as
  cognitive. Our review focused on seven of the curriculum standards for
  children’s cognitive and language development.
• HHS regional offices make on-site inspections to monitor programs’ performance
  in meeting all performance standards. Inspection teams monitor approximately
  one-third of the programs each year.




                                                                                         8




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                                                    Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                    Head Start




Background (continued)


• Head Start’s performance standards for cognitive and language development are
  based on concepts, such as emergent literacy, that have their roots in behavioral and
  social science research on child development:
   • Cognitive development refers to advances in a child’s ability to develop ideas and
     theories about how things work, that is, the general ability to reason.
   • Language development refers to a child’s progress in learning language, including
     grammar, the sounds of speech and vocabulary.
   • Emergent literacy refers to the theory that developing the ability to read begins
     early in a child’s life, rather than when a child starts school. It includes the skills,
     knowledge, and attitudes that are considered forerunners to reading and writing,
     including recognizing the names of the letters of the alphabet, scribbling,
     recognizing that the print in books is what is read, paying attention to the sounds
     in words, and connecting stories to life experiences.2
2
 Since 1998, the National Research Council has examined the research on early childhood learning and development in several comprehensive reviews that discuss
these concepts in greater detail. National Research Council, Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success, Committee on Prevention of
Reading Difficulties in Young Children, M.S. Burns, P. Griffin, and C.E. Snow, eds. (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999); National Research Council, How
People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, School-Expanded Edition, Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, J.D. Bransford, A.L. Brown, and R. R.
Cocking, eds. (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001); and National Research Council, Eager to Learn, Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy, B. T.
Bowman, M.S. Donovan, and M. Susan Burns, eds. (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2001).


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                                              Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                              Head Start




Background

Head Start Performance Standards for Cognitive and
Language Development

• Standard 1304.21 (a) (4)-Grantee and delegate agencies must provide for the
  development of each child’s cognitive and language skills by
      (i) using a variety of strategies,
      (ii) providing for creative self-expression,
      (iii) promoting interaction and conversation with others, and
      (iv) providing materials and activities adapted to each child.
• Standard 1304.21 (c) (1)-Grantee and delegate agencies, in collaboration with
  the parents, must implement a curriculum to
      (i) support each child’s individual pattern of development and learning and
      (ii) develop each child's cognitive, literacy, and mathematical skills.

Source: GAO analysis of Head Start performance standards described in HHS, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Head Start Program
Regulations and Program Guidance for Parts 1304 and 1308, February 2001. See also 45 CFR, Part 1304.21.

                                                                                                                                                10




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                          Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                          Head Start




Background

Head Start Performance Standards for Cognitive and
Language Development (continued)

• Standard 1304.21 (c) (2)-Staff must use a variety of strategies to promote and
  support children’s learning and developmental progress based on the observation
  and ongoing assessment of each child.




                                                                                       11




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                              Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                              Head Start




Background (continued)


• The curriculum Head Start programs use must meet the definition for curriculum
  in Head Start performance standards.3 Programs may develop their own
  curriculum, adopt, or adapt any existing package. Two widely used existing
  curricula are High Scope and Creative Curriculum.
• Head Start’s performance standards define curriculum as a written plan that
  includes: (1) goals for children’s development and learning, (2) the experiences
  through which children will achieve the goals, (3) what staff and parents do to
  help children achieve the goals, and (4) the materials needed to support the
  implementation of the curriculum.




3See   45 CFR 1304.3(a)(5).




                                                                                             12




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                                                 Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                 Head Start




Background

Key Features of Two Curricula-High Scope and Creative
Curriculum

 Curriculum
 features          High Scope                                                              Creative Curriculum
 Teaching and      Encourages children to pursue their own interests                       Balances teacher-directed and child-initiated learning,
 learning theory   and goals. Teaching strategies balance child and adult initiation.      emphasizing responding to children’s learning styles and
                                                                                           building on their interests.

 Curriculum        Fifty-eight key experiences for preschool children grouped into         Five major areas: how children develop and learn, the
 framework         10 categories: creative representation, language and literacy,          learning environment, the content areas children learn, the
                   initiative and social relations, movement, music, classification,       teacher’s role, and the family’s role. Six content areas:
                   seriation, number, space, and time.                                     literary, math, science, social studies, arts, technology, and
                                                                                           the process skills children use to learn the content. Eleven
                                                                                           classroom interest areas: blocks, dramatic play, toys and
                                                                                           games, art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and
                                                                                           movement, cooking, computers, and outdoors.

 Parent            Encourages parent participation in the classroom                        Guides teachers in developing a relationship with the child’s
 involvement       and fosters home-school communication.                                  family.

 Assessment        Using the Child Observation Record, a teacher or observer               Includes a Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum
                   assesses a child’s behavior in 6 areas: initiative, social relations,   for ages 3-5, which defines and measures a sequence of
                   creative representation, music and movement, language and               steps a child is expected to take toward milestones in
                   literacy, and logic and mathematics.                                    socioemotional, physical, cognitive, and language
                                                                                           development.



Sources: GAO summary of curriculum publishers’ documentation.


                                                                                                                                                            13




                                                 Page 17                                                                           GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                                Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                Head Start




Question 1

Overall, HHS Finds Most Programs in Compliance with
Curriculum Standards

• By 2002, HHS had determined that at least 45 percent of all 1,532 programs in
  HHS’s 10 regions were rated as having “no findings” in curriculum-related areas
  during on-site inspections, meaning that the programs were in full compliance
  with Head Start’s overall performance standards for curriculum.5 The remaining
  programs had at least one finding.
• In 2002, HHS found that no more than 10 percent of the programs reviewed in
  any geographic region that year had serious or significant areas of
  noncompliance with overall standards for curriculum.




5Head  Start inspection teams used the following criteria to determine compliance findings:
“No findings” means that a program was in full compliance.
“Findings” means that a program was out of compliance in at least one area.
“Substantial findings” means that a program had serious or significant areas of noncompliance..


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                                                Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                Head Start




Question 1

Overall, HHS Finds Most Programs in Compliance with
Curriculum Standards (continued)

• Three percent of the programs reviewed in 2002 were rated deficient with regard
  to the overall performance standards for curriculum.6
      • Deficiencies must be corrected immediately or within a year, pursuant to a
        written quality improvement plan.
      • Deficiencies not corrected within the specified time frame will lead to
        termination of the grant or denial of refunding.




6Head Start regulations define a deficiency in 45 CFR 1304.3(a)(6). Any determination of “substantial findings” could potentially lead to a designation of

deficiency. Thus, the 3 percent of programs rated deficient in 2002 may have included some of those with substantial findings. However, information on
the reasons for the deficiency ratings was not available.


                                                                                                                                                      15




                                                Page 19                                                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                           Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                           Head Start




Question 1

HHS Finds Most Programs in Compliance with
Cognitive and Language Development Standards

• Of the 1,532 programs reviewed during 2000-02, HHS determined that the
  highest percent found out of compliance with any one of the seven specific
  performance standards for cognitive and language development was 10 percent.
• Programs were found out of compliance most often for:
   • not using classroom activities and materials sufficiently adapted to children’s
     varied development and
   • not making continuous observation and assessment of each child’s progress.




                                                                                       16




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                                                  Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                  Head Start




Question 2

Head Start Children Were in Programs That Used a
Specific Curriculum

  The FACES data did not allow us to determine change over time, but did permit
  us to describe Head Start curricula at two points in time.
      • In large part, Head Start teachers reported that children were in programs
        that used a specific curriculum or combinations of curricula. In 1998, an
        estimated 54 percent of Head Start children were in programs that used
        either High Scope or Creative Curriculum, while in 2000, an estimated 58
        percent of the children were in programs that used one or the other
        curriculum. However, because the surveys in each time period used different
        methodologies, we could not determine if these percentages represented an
        actual change.
      • In each time period, more than 40 percent of the children were in classes that
        used other curricula or combinations of curricula.7 In 1998, some
        combinations included High Scope and Creative Curriculum.
7HHS’s  Administration for Children and Families has issued Head Start FACES (2000): A Whole-Child Perspective on Program Performance, Fourth Progress Report,
which includes analyses of Head Start curricula that were beyond the scope of this study. See http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/core/
ongoing_research/faces/faces_intro.html.


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                                                Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                Head Start




Question 2

In 1998, the Largest Percentages of Head Start Children
Were in Classes That Used High Scope or Creative
Curriculum
                                                                                          Other, including
                                                                                          combinations
                                                                                          Creative Curriculum
                                                                      18



                                                     46

                                                                        36                High Scope




Sources: 1998 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The survey question in the 1998 teacher interview that provided these data asked FACES respondents to identify the name of their principal
curriculum. Because many respondents answered the question in a way that indicated they used more than one principal curriculum, we recoded
the responses. We interpreted the use of more than one principal curriculum as the use of combinations of curricula. Some combinations included
High Scope and Creative Curriculum.
The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 13 percent margin of error.


                                                                                                                                                   18




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                                                Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                Head Start




Question 2

In 2000, the Largest Percentages of Head Start Children
Also Were in Classes That Used High Scope or Creative
Curriculum
                                                                           Other – principal curriculum


                                                                           High Scope – principal curriculum
                                                       22


                                      42


                                                      36                   Creative Curriculum – principal curriculum




Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The survey question in the 2000 teacher interview that provided these data asked FACES respondents to identify the name of
their principal curriculum. Respondents answered the question in a way that indicated the one principal curriculum they used. The
percentages above are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 15 percent margin of error.
Responses to HHS’s 2002 Program Information Report (PIR) indicated that 45 percent of Head Start programs used Creative
Curriculum and 18 percent used High Scope. The question in the PIR concerning the type of curriculum used was open-ended.
These percentages represent responses by programs that reported simply “Creative Curriculum” or “High Scope”.


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                                                  Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                  Head Start




Question 2

Teachers Reported That Head Start Children Have Been
Exposed to a Variety of Cognitive and Language
Development Activities
• The FACES data included no detailed information on the implementation of
  individual curriculum packages in 1998 and 2000, but some information on the
  activities supporting cognitive development that children experienced was
  available. However, because HHS’s FACES project team changed and
  expanded the FACES interview questions in 2000, to collect more detailed
  information on children’s exposure to activities that foster emergent literacy,
  these data also did not allow us to determine change over time.
• In both time periods, most Head Start children had teachers who reported
  offering basic cognitive and language development activities daily or almost
  daily.



Note: Information on classroom activities was derived from teacher interviews and thus is subject to the social desirability biases inherent in self-
reported data.


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                                                Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                Head Start




Question 2

In 1998, Teachers Reported That over 90 Percent of
Head Start Children Experienced Several Basic
Cognitive Development Activities Daily or Almost Daily
                                                       Percentage                    • Teachers reported that over 90
Activity offered by teacher                            of children                     percent of Head Start children
Building with blocks or doing other                                                    experienced block building, story
                                                              96
construction work
                                                                                       reading, solving puzzles, and
Reading stories                                               95                       learning numbers daily or almost
Solving puzzles and playing with                                                       daily. A smaller proportion
                                                              93
geometric forms                                                                        learned letters that often.
Learning numbers or counting                                  92

Learning letters                                              68




Sources: 1998 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 7 percent margin of error. Differences in the percentage for
learning letters and all other activities are statistically significant.



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                                               Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                               Head Start




Question 2

In 2000, Teachers Reported That Head Start Children
Were Exposed to a Variety of Language Development
Activities Daily or Almost Daily
                                                                 Percentage               • Children were more likely to
Children's classroom activity                                    of children
Listening to stories for which they see print                          89
                                                                                            listen to stories for which they
Discussing new words                                                   76
                                                                                            see print, to learn about new
Learning about common prepositions                                     75                   words, prepositions, the
Learning about the conventions of print                                68                   conventions of print and letters,
Learning letters                                                       67                   and to retell stories, on a daily or
Retelling stories                                                      60                   almost daily basis, than to
Dictating stories                                                      52                   experience the other activities.
Working on phonics                                                     48
Writing their name                                                     43
Learning about rhyming words and word families                         41
Writing letters                                                        33
Listening to stories for which they do not see print                   29
Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis. There were no items in the 2000 FACES teacher interview concerning classroom
activities that fostered general reasoning and numerical skills.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 10 percent margin of error. Differences in the percentages
greater than 25 percent are statistically significant. Differences less than 10 percent are not statistically significant.


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                                               Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                               Head Start




Question 2

Regional Officials Reported Some Changes in
Use of Curricula

• According to officials in 8 of HHS’s 10 regional offices, use of curriculum by
  programs in several regions has changed since 1998. They reported that:
      • More programs are using published curricula. Programs have found that
        commercially produced curricula make it easier for them to measure child
        outcomes. They also use supplementary curricula that they adapt to the
        commercial curricula.
      • Programs are selecting curricula that include assessment tools that also can
        help measure outcomes.8
      • Programs are implementing their curricula with a more structured, sequenced
        set of classroom activities.


8Responses  to HHS’s 2002 Program Information Report (PIR) indicate that, for on-going child assessment, the assessment instruments
developed by publishers of Creative Curriculum and High Scope were used by the largest percentage of programs. Of programs
responding to the PIR,11 percent used the Developmental Continuum assessment instrument produced by the publishers of Creative
Curriculum and 9 percent used the Child Observation Record produced by High Scope’s publishers.


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                                               Page 27                                                                    GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                                  Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                  Head Start




Question 3

In 2000, Teachers of Most Head Start Children Reported
Receiving Mentoring Support

• Teachers of about two-thirds of Head Start children reported being observed by
  a mentor, who provided feedback, guidance, and training.
• Of children whose teachers have a mentor, the teachers of about 60 percent
  received mentoring visits once every week or every 2 weeks. Teachers of the
  remainder received mentoring visits about once a month or less often.
• About half of Head Start children had teachers who acted as a mentor for other
  teachers and trainees.9



Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have a margin of error. The margin of error for percentages in all three bullets is at most plus or
minus 10 percent. The differences among all percentages in the first and third bullets are statistically significant. In the second bullet, the difference
between the percentages for once a week and once every 2 weeks and the difference between the percentages for once a week and once a month or
less are statistically significant.
9The   FACES data did not provide information on the qualifications of mentors in 2000.


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                                                  Page 28                                                                        GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                              Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                              Head Start




Question 3

In 2000, Most Head Start Children Had Teachers Who
Monitored Their Individual Progress

• About 90 percent of Head Start children had teachers who reported maintaining
  records of progress on each child.
• These individual records usually included samples of the child’s work, checklists,
  or rating scales that indicated the child’s skill level or notes from observations of
  the child’s progress.




Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have a plus or minus 7 percent margin of error.


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                                              Page 29                                                GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                             Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                             Head Start




Question 3

In 2000, Individual Progress of about Two-thirds of
Head Start Children Was Tracked Using a Written
System
                                                 Percentage of           • About two-thirds of Head Start children
                                                children whose
                                               teachers use the            whose teachers conduct individual
                                                     child                 assessments were assessed using a
                                                  assessment
Child assessment approach                          approach
                                                                           written system that tracks each child’s
Written system records individual
                                                                           progress on a chart, grid, or series of
child's progress on chart, grid, or                     67                 scales.
series of scales
                                                                         • Teachers of an estimated 30 percent of
Each child is observed during class
                                                        30                 Head Start children who were assessed
and notes are kept
Each child is observed but no notes                                        used recorded observations of the children
                                                         3
are kept                                                                   during class as the assessment method.
                                                                         • Teachers of an estimated 3 percent of
                                                                           Head Start children observed their
                                                                           behavior but kept no records.
Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 9 percent margin of error. The differences among all percentages
are statistically significant.


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                                             Page 30                                                                  GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                               Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                               Head Start




Question 3

In 2000, Almost 90 Percent of Head Start Children
Received Individual Assessments in Cognitive and
Language Development
Areas of child development
                                                                                                 • Most Head Start children
         Cognitive                                                            89                   received individual
                                                                                                   assessments in cognitive and
         Language                                                             88                   language development.10
                                                                                                 • More than half of Head Start
    Mathematical                                         57
                                                                                                   children were assessed in
                                                                                                   mathematical areas of
Emergent literacy                                 46
                                                                                                   development and almost half
                     0          20          40         60              80          100
                                                                                                   were assessed in emergent
                     Percentage of children whose teachers                                         literacy.
                     assessed them in the areas
Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 12 percent margin of error. The differences among the
percentages for the cognitive, language, emergent literacy, and mathematical areas of development that are greater than 20 percent are statistically
significant. Differences less than 12 percent are not statistically significant.
10Head  Start children’s individual assessments cover a range of areas, including physical growth, motor, social and emotional skills and FACES
collects information on assessments in these areas. We have reported findings only for the cognitive, language, emergent literacy, and mathematical
areas of development because those areas were the focus of our review. Although High Scope and Creative Curriculum include assessment
instruments, the FACES data did not identify the instruments that were used to conduct these assessments.


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                                               Page 31                                                                      GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                               Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                               Head Start




Question 3

Head Start Children Received Individual Assessments
at Least Once a Year in 2000

                                                    Annually                • About half of Head Start children
                                                                              received individual assessments
                                11                                            three or more times a year and about
                                                                              half received assessments once or
                                                                              twice a year.
                   52                37             Twice a year




                                                    Three or more
                                                    times a year


Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 11 percent margin of error. The differences between
the percentage for annual assessment and the percentages for twice a year and three or more times a year are statistically significant.


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                                               Page 32                                                                       GAO-03-1049 Head Start
                                                   Appendix I: Congressional Briefing Slides:
                                                   Head Start




    Question 3

    In 2000, Individual Assessment Results Were Used for
    Small Groups and Overall Curriculum Planning

                                                      Percentage of             • Teachers of an estimated 78 percent of
    Use of individual child                            Head Start
    assessment information                              children                  Head Start children used the information
    Used both in selecting small groups                                           from individual assessments to select
                                                              78
    and in overall curriculum planning                                            small groups, by skill level, for specific
    Used to select small groups of                                                learning activities, and in overall
    children, by skill level, for specific                    11                  curriculum planning.
    learning activities
    Used to select the appropriate level
    for all instructional activities or in                    10
    overall curriculum planning
    Information was recorded but not
                                                               2
    used for planning




    Sources: 2000 FACES teacher interview data, GAO analysis.
    Note: The percentages are based on sample data and have at most, a plus or minus 9 percent margin of error. The differences among all but two sets
    of percentages are statistically significant. The difference between information was not recorded and used to select the appropriate level, and the
    difference between used to select small groups and used to select the appropriate level were not statistically significant.


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                                                   Page 33                                                                    GAO-03-1049 Head Start
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