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Version 1.2 – Updated June 2023

Head Start programs


  • Influence: Head Start programs
  • Domain: School
  • Sub-Domain: Pre-school interventions
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Likely to have positive impact
  • Influence Definition: Created in 1965 during the so-called "War on Poverty," and reauthorized in 1994 as Early Head Start (EHS), this program provides comprehensive educational support to three- and four-year-old children in the United States at no cost.


  • Number of meta-analyses: 6
  • Number of studies: 412
  • Number of students: 10,596
  • Number of effects: 1,288
  • Weighted mean effect size: 0.37
  • Robustness index: 4


Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Report Harrell USA The effects of the Head Start Program on children's cognitive development. Preliminary report. Head Start evaluation, synthesis and utilization project 1983 Head start programs 71 0 449 0.42
Conference paper Collins USA Head Start: a review of research with implications for practice in early childhood education 1984 Head start programs 67 0 271 0.27
Report McKey, Condelli, Ganson, Barrett, McConkey, & Plantz USA The impact of Head Start on children, families, and their communities. Final Report of the Head Start Education, synthesis and utilization project. Executive summary 1985 Head start programs 72 0 17 0.31
Report Murphy USA Educational effectiveness of Sesame Street: A review of the first twenty years of research 1991 Sesame Street 150 0 104 0.46
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Shager, Schindler, Magnuson, Duncan, Yoshikawa & Hart USA Can research design explain variation in Head Start research results? A meta-analysis 2012 Head start programs 28 0 313 0.27
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology Mares & Pan USA Effects of Sesame Street: A meta-analysis of children's learning in 15 countries 2013 Sesame Street 24 10,596 134 0.26
TOTAL/AVERAGE 412 10,596 1,288 0.33
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