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Study Finds Advantage to Broader Head Start Curriculum

When Head Start programs used a broad curriculum that emphasized both academics and social awareness over specific academics alone, pupils outperformed their fellow Head Start alumni in kindergarten, a new study found.

The study, done by Karen L. Bierman, Robert L. Nix, Brenda S. Heinrichs, Celene E. Domitrovich, Scott D. Gest, Janet A. Welsh and Sukhdeep Gill, looked at 356 Pennsylvania children whose preschool teachers had used the "REDI" curriculum—otherwise known as the Research-based, Developmentally Informed Intervention Program funded by the federal Interagency School Readiness Consortium.

The researchers found that the children taught with the "REDI" curriculum could better decode words, were more engaged in learning, more competent in solving social problems, and less aggressive than their peers who had used traditional curricula that aimed to impart specific knowledge, a report published in this month's edition of the journal Child Development states.

Such findings were true for all children in the study no matter whether they attended rural, suburban, or urban kindergartens, the study states.

The study comes at a time in which Head Start programs are under fire from program critics for their ability to offer long-term gains.

The online journal article can be found here.


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