To the Editor:
I am heartened by the rising level of education credentials required of Head Start teachers, and am happy to say that they already far exceed those of teachers in private preschools. (“Head Start Measure Expected to Launch New Era for Program,” Nov. 28, 2007).
For many years, Head Start, both as a program and in its professional-development initiatives, has focused primarily on family support as well as social and emotional development. Only in recent years has it focused on academic skills. We need to continue to look at cognitive, science, and math development, along with language and literacy skills, and how these can be supported in ways that will have a lasting impact on children’s learning and long-term school success.
Although the National Reporting System, the test given to Head Start students, was not without its shortcomings, it did challenge programs to look more closely at what specific skills and knowledge children were gaining while in Head Start. This is the direction the program needs to go; otherwise, Head Start will be guilty of educationally underserving the already underserved.
Center for Children and Families
Education Development Center Inc.
A version of this article appeared in the December 19, 2007 edition of Education Week as A Vote for Head Start’s Academic Component