U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting answers on a significantly delayed report intended to shed light on the long-term efficacy of the Head Start program.
"The Head Start program is designed to help prepare children for success in school and in life, but without adequate information, Congress cannot monitor whether the program is working," Chairman Kline said. "The administration has a responsibility to adhere to the letter of the law and provide lawmakers and the general public with the data necessary to determine whether the program is effectively serving families and taxpayers."
"Taxpayers and the parents of the more than 900,000 children attending Head Start deserve to know whether this $8 billion program is making a lasting difference in students' lives. To say that this study is long-overdue is an understatement. It shouldn't take six years to evaluate whether third-graders are better off after attending Head Start," stated Senator Coburn.
In 1998, Congress mandated HHS to conduct a national evaluation of Head Start. The first Head Start Impact Study, released in 2010, examined the academic and developmental outcomes of a group of Head Start participants from preschool through the first grade. In 2006, HHS initiated a follow up to the Head Start Impact Study, tracking outcomes of the same group of children through the end of third grade. As Chairman Kline and Senator Coburn state in their letter, the results of this report have still not been released:
We understand data collection for the third grade evaluation was completed in the spring of 2008--more than four years ago. We also understand the analysis of that data was completed in 2010. Congress and the American people deserve to know a simple question: why has HHS been unable to produce a final report more than four years after data from the Third Grade Follow-Up Study was collected and two years after the data analysis was complete? We request you immediately release the latest version of the study, explain in detail why there has been a continued delay in issuing the final report, and provide us with a firm date on when the final report will be released to the public.
Chairman Kline and Senator Coburn also express concerns about HHS' management of the research project, noting the cost for the project has grown from $6 million in 2006 to an estimated $10.6 million as of April 2012.