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Measures of Adult Education and Literacy' which was released on March 
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United States General Accounting Office: 
GAO: 

Report to Congressional Requester: 

March 2002: 

Head Start And Even Start: 

Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of Adult Education and 
Literacy: 

GAO-02-348: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Programs Share Many Common Elements, But Differ In Focus And Design: 

Grantees in Both Programs Provided Similar Early Childhood Services To 
Poor Children, but Adult Services Differed: 

Information About The Effectiveness Of Head Start And Even Start Is 
Limited: 

Opportunity Exists For Additional Collaboration Between The Two 
Programs: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendation: 

Agency Comments And Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Education: 

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contacts: 

Acknowledgments: 
Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Comparison of Major Head Start and Even Start Legislative 
Provisions: 

Table 2: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Performance 
Expectations and Measures for Children’s Cognitive Growth and Adult 
Literacy and Education: 

Table 3: Maximum Percent of Head Start and Even Start Funding Received 
From Federal Program Appropriations Each Grant Year: 

Table 4: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Participants by
Characteristic: 

Table 5: Objectives of Ongoing Effectiveness Studies: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Comparison of Numbers of Children and Families Served by Head 
Start and Even Start, Program Year 2000: 

Figure 2: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Federal Funding, 
1990–2002 (Current Dollars): 

Figure 3: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Program Funding and 
Service Delivery Structures: 

Figure 4: Comparison of Educational Components of Head Start and Even 
Start Center Programs: 

Figure 5: Experimental Design for Early Childhood Program Impact 
Evaluations: 

Abbreviations: 

ESPIRS: Education’s Even Start Performance Information Reporting 
System: 

FACES: Family and Child Experiences Survey: 

GED: general equivalency diploma: 

HHS: Department of Health and Human Services: 

PIR: Program Information Report: 

[End of section] 

United States General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

March 29, 2002: 

The Honorable George V. Voinovich: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and 
the District of Columbia: 
Committee on Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The Head Start and Even Start Family Literacy programs have for many
years provided services intended to improve the educational and
economic outcomes for millions of disadvantaged children and their
families. Although the programs differ substantially in size—in fiscal 
year 2002, Head Start funding is over $6 billion while Even Start is 
$250 million—our earlier work highlighted some similarities between 
these two programs, which are administered by different federal 
agencies.[Footnote 1] We have raised concerns that if such programs are 
designed to achieve similar outcomes for similar populations, but do 
not work together to address the needs of these targeted groups, then 
inefficiencies in administration and service delivery may result. 
Moreover, questions have arisen about the wisdom of having similar 
early childhood programs administered by different departments. 
Recently, President Bush, as part of his emphasis on child literacy and 
school readiness, has proposed transferring Head Start from the 
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Department of 
Education (Education). 

To determine whether Head Start and Even Start programs are 
substantially similar in key areas, you asked us to determine the 
following: 

* How similar the programs are in legal requirements and administration
and the extent to which they have similar purposes, performance goals,
and indicators. 

* How these programs differ operationally, particularly in terms of the
services they provide; how those services are provided; and who receives
them. 

* What is known about the relative effectiveness of the two programs. 

* The extent to which opportunities exist for the programs to work more
effectively with one another to meet the needs of program participants. 

To answer these questions we collected and reviewed the most recent, 
national-level data for both programs summarizing the type of 
participants served, the services they receive, how the services are 
provided and who provides them. We reviewed the legislation governing 
both programs and several evaluative studies, including the interim 
results of recent impact studies by HHS and Education. We supplemented 
our understanding with site visits to Head Start and Even Start 
programs located in different types of communities–one densely 
populated urban city (Chicago, Illinois), two suburban cities, one 
located near Seattle, Washington (Renton) and another near Washington, 
D.C. (Frederick, Maryland) and a rural community (Niceville, Florida). 
We selected sites that demonstrated a variety of cooperative 
arrangements with one another and with other organizations in their 
communities. Some Head Start and Even Start programs we visited were 
formal partners with each other, some collaborated as needed, and 
others did not coordinate their efforts with each other. We performed 
our work between May 2001 and March 2002 in accordance with generally 
accepted government auditing standards. 

Results in Brief: 

Head Start and Even Start were both designed to address the education
and literacy needs of poor families with young children and are 
required to offer similar services when the needs of the families they 
serve are similar. However, in practice they served somewhat different 
populations with different education and literacy needs. 

Although Head Start is a substantially larger program than Even Start, 
the separate legislation establishing them created programs with 
similar goals, target populations, and services. Head Start and Even 
Start both target disadvantaged populations to improve their 
educational outcomes. Moreover, both programs are required to offer 
education and literacy services to children and their families. Head 
Start’s goal, however, is to ensure that young children are ready for 
school and program eligibility is tied to specific poverty income 
guidelines. In contrast, Even Start’s goal is to improve family 
literacy and the educational opportunities of both parents and their 
young children. Even Start eligibility is tied to parents’ educational 
attainment. Although there are no income thresholds established for 
eligibility, local Even Start programs are required to recruit families 
most in need of such services as indicated by high levels of poverty 
and unemployment. Despite these differences, both programs are required 
to provide similar services for children and families when necessary. 
Both programs have developed some similar and some identical 
performance measures and outcome expectations for children, but not for
parents. Only Even Start has identified measures that directly gauge
educational attainment and literacy of participating adults. Finally, 
the federal government plays different roles in administering the two
programs. The federal government administers Head Start and directly
provides up to 80 percent of program funds to local Head Start programs.
In contrast, the states administer Even Start and award federal funding 
to local Even Start programs, and the federal share of Even Start 
programs declines from a maximum of 90 percent in the first year of 
funding to a maximum of 35 percent in the ninth and subsequent years. 

Head Start and Even Start grantees provided some similar services to
young children and families, but the variations in how these programs
served adults reflect the variations in the needs of the parents. In 
Head Start, about three quarters of the parents had high school 
diplomas. Therefore, Head Start grantees generally focused on early 
childhood education and enrolled only the child although the parents 
can receive adult education and literacy services if they require them. 
Head Start officials, as well as parents with children in the program, 
said that many of the parents who participated in Head Start did so 
primarily to obtain early childhood education for their young children. 
Even Start parents were much more likely than Head Start parents to 
lack a high school diploma and speak a language other than English. 
Thus, Even Start grantees enrolled both the parents and the child in 
the program and their core services included a range of adult education 
and literacy services, such as basic education and English language 
instruction. According to Education’s data, many of the parents who 
participated in Even Start did so primarily to obtain education and 
literacy services for themselves. No recent, definitive information 
exists on the effectiveness of either program and so it is difficult to 
determine which of the programs employs a more effective model for 
improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged children and their 
parents. Both HHS and Education have studies underway that will provide 
more definitive information on the extent to which each of these 
programs is achieving its intended goals. Both programs have been 
heavily studied in the past, providing policymakers with information on 
how well the programs were implemented and how they could be improved. 
For example, the first Even Start study was largely an implementation 
study in which the findings served as a catalyst for changes in the 
program’s legislation, including making teenage parents eligible for 
services. 

In recognition of the similarities between the programs, both programs’
legislation contain provisions that they coordinate services with one
another. At the local level, differences in the needs of participants 
and the location of neighborhoods served by the two programs may mean 
some Head Start and Even Start grantees find only limited opportunities 
to work together. At the national level, HHS and Education have 
initiated several coordinating activities, including the funding of 
state-level organizations intended to improve collaboration among 
organizations serving poor children and their families in each state. 
Other national efforts have been to provide technical assistance, share 
information and develop a complementary outcome measurement system that 
reflects their common early childhood development goals. However, the 
two agencies have not collaborated as much on family literacy or 
developed similar measures of family literacy outcomes. We are 
recommending that they take action in this area. 

Background: 

Head Start is administered by HHS and was begun in 1965 as part of the
“War on Poverty.” The program was built on the philosophy that effective
intervention in children’s lives could best be accomplished through 
family and community involvement, as evidenced by the broad range of 
services, which include educational, medical, dental, mental health, 
nutritional, and social services, offered to Head Start families. In 
1992, the Congress added a requirement that Head Start offer family 
literacy services. Today Head Start dwarfs all other federal early 
childhood programs both in funding support and the size of the 
population served. In the year 2000, Head Start served about 846,000 
families and about 923,000 children. Although it began as a summer 
program with a budget of $96.4 million, Head Start funding today totals 
more than $6 billion.[Footnote 2] Head Start grantees operate programs 
in every state, primarily through locally based service providers. 
Recognizing that the years from conception to age three are critical to
human development, the Congress established Early Head Start in 1994, a
program that serves expectant mothers, as well as infants and toddlers. 

Over the course of its 36-year history, Head Start has served over 19
million children. 

In contrast, Even Start is substantially smaller than Head Start. First
funded in 1989 under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act, Even Start also has a much shorter history of serving needy 
children and families than its HHS counterpart. The program’s approach 
is rooted in the philosophy that the educational attainment of parents 
in particular and the quality of the family’s environment in general 
are central to a child’s acquisition of literacy skills and success in 
school. Administered by Education, Even Start’s budget has expanded 
considerably, from about $15 million at the program’s beginning, to 
$250 million in the year 2002. During its 1999–2000 program year, Even 
Start served about 31,600 families and 41,600 children in programs 
around the country. In addition, the Congress established separate Head 
Start and Even Start migrant and Native American programs. These 
programs are not covered in this report. 

See figure 1 for a comparison of the numbers of children and families
served by both programs. See figure 2 for a comparison of Head Start and
Even Start appropriations over the last decade, 1990–2002. 

Figure 1: Comparison of Numbers of Children and Families Served by Head 
Start and Even Start, Program Year 2000: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

This figure is a multiple vertical bar graph depicting the following 
data: 

Comparison of Numbers of Children and Families Served by Head Start and 
Even Start, Program Year 2000: 

Head Start: 
Number of children: 923,000; 
Number of families: 846,390. 

Even Start: 
Number of children: 41,590; 
Number of families: 31,570. 

[End of figure] 

Figure 2: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Federal Funding, 
1990–2002 (Current Dollars): 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

This figure is a multiple line graph depicting a comparison of Head 
Start and Even Start federal funding from 1990–2002. Even Start funding 
has remained fairly constant at under $500 million per year, while Head 
Start funding has shown a steady increase from about $1.5 billion in 
1990 to about $6 billion in 2002. 

Source: Department of Education and Department of Health and Human 
Services. 

[End of figure] 

Although Head Start is administered by HHS, President Bush, as part of 
his emphasis on child literacy and school readiness, proposed 
transferring Head Start from HHS to Education. President Carter 
advocated a similar transfer in 1978. Opponents of the move argue that 
the social and human services component of Head Start is just as 
important as the educational program in achieving school readiness and 
the overall well being of the child. They have expressed concern that 
moving the program to Education would result in a narrower menu of 
services almost exclusively educational in nature. 

Programs Share Many Common Elements, but Differ in Focus and Design: 

The separate legislation governing Head Start and Even Start established
programs that overlap somewhat in goals, target population and services,
but also have a number of significant differences. Even Start and Head
Start similarly target disadvantaged populations, seeking to improve 
their educational outcomes. While both programs are required to provide
education and literacy services to children and their families, Head 
Start’s goal is to prepare children to enter school while Even Start’s 
goal is to improve family literacy and education. Both programs measure
achievement of their goals for children against similar criteria or
measures, but only Even Start has developed measures to gauge adults’
educational attainment and literacy. Although the programs have similar
legislative provisions, the federal government administers Head Start 
and directly funds local Head Start programs while the states 
administer Even Start and allocate federal funds to local Even Start 
programs. 

Head Start and Even Start Legislation Created Programs with Overlapping 
Goals, Populations, and Services: 

The separate legislation establishing Head Start and Even Start created
overlapping programs, although there are many legislative differences 
between the two programs (see table 1). Both programs were created to 
address a similar problem, poor educational outcomes and economic 
prospects for low-income people. However, Head Start’s goal is to 
promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive 
development of low-income children. Even Start’s goal is to improve the
literacy and education in the nation’s low-income families. 

Table 1: Comparison of Major Head Start and Even Start Legislative 
Provisions: 

Head Start: 
Goal: Prepare children to enter school; 
Target Population: Preschool age children (including infants and 
toddlers) and their families, as well as pregnant women (10 percent of 
enrollment is reserved for children with disabilities); 
Income and poverty targeting provisions: Primarily children from
families with income at or below federal poverty income guidelines or
eligible for public assistance; 
Services required to be offered: 
Early childhood education: [Check]; 
Health: [Check][A]; 
Nutrition: [Check][A]; 
Social: [Check][A]; 
Substance abuse: [Check][A]; 
counseling: [Check]; 
Adult literacy: [Check][B]; 
Adult basic education: [Check][A]; 
Parenting education: [Check]; 
Other necessary services: [Check][A]; 

Even Start: 
Goal: Improve family literacy and educational opportunities; 
Target Population: Parents who are not enrolled in school and their 
children, birth through age 7, who lack a high school diploma or its 
equivalent, the basic skills necessary to function in society, or are 
unable to speak, read, or write English (No requirement to serve 
children with disabilities); 
Income and poverty targeting provisions: Although having no specific
income requirements, priority is given to families who are most in need 
of services as indicated by, among other things, high levels of poverty 
and unemployment; 
Services required to be offered: 
Early childhood education: [Check]; 
Health: [Check]; 
Nutrition: [C]; 
Social: [C]; 
Substance abuse: [C]; 
counseling: [C]; 
Adult literacy: [Check]; 
Adult basic education: [Check][D]; 
Parenting education: [Check]; 
Other necessary services: [Check]. 

[A] These services are identified in the Head Start legislation’s 
statement of purpose, but are only to be provided as necessary. 

[B] The legislation requires Head Start programs to offer (either 
directly or through referral to other entities) family literacy 
services, which are defined in the legislation to include “parent 
literacy training”. We are using the term “adult literacy” to refer to 
parent literacy training. 

[C] Although not mentioned, Even Start’s legislation authorizes 
programs to provide support services when they are determined to be 
necessary to ensure program participation. 

[D] This service is identified in the Even Start legislation’s 
statement of purpose. 

Source: GAO analysis of Head Start and Even Start legislation (42 USC 
9831–9852a, 20 USC 6361–6370. 

[End of table] 

The legislation creating each program specifies the broad target group 
as low-income people; however, each program’s legislation specifically
targets a different group of low-income individuals. Consistent with 
its school readiness goal, Head Start specifically targets poor 
preschool age children and their families. The regulations governing 
Head Start require that at least 90 percent of the children enrolled in 
Head Start come from families with incomes at or below the federal 
poverty guidelines[Footnote 3] or from families eligible for public 
assistance. Consistent with its family literacy goal, Even Start is 
authorized to serve low-literate parents and their young children. To 
participate in Even Start, the parent or parents must be eligible for 
participation in adult education and literacy activities under the 
Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. For example, at least one 
parent must not be enrolled in school and must lack a high school 
diploma or its equivalent or lack the basic skills necessary to 
function in society.[Footnote 4] The parent must also have a child who 
is below age 8. Although Even Start targets low-income families, its 
legislation does not specifically limit participation to low-income 
individuals nor does it define “low-income,” as does Head Start. 
However, the legislation creating Even Start does require that priority 
for funding be given to families who are in need of such services as 
indicated by their poverty and unemployment status. In line with its 
focus on literacy, Even Start legislation does assign priority for 
funding to families who are in need of such services as indicated by 
parent illiteracy, limited-English proficiency and other need related 
indicators. 

Although both programs target young children, there are differences in 
the ages the two programs are authorized to serve. Head Start is 
authorized to serve children at any age prior to compulsory school 
attendance. In 1994, as part of Head Start, the Congress established 
Early Head Start to ensure that infants and toddlers are served in 
greater numbers. This program is also authorized to provide services to 
pregnant women. Even Start is authorized to serve preschool age 
children as well, but unlike Head Start, it is also authorized to serve 
school-age children to age 8.[Footnote 5] Even Start is not authorized 
to serve pregnant women who do not have children below the age of 8. 
Head Start grantees are also required to reserve 10 percent of their 
enrollment for children with disabilities. Even Start has no such 
requirement. 

With respect to services, Head Start historically has been authorized to
provide services that specifically support children’s development, such 
as early childhood education, nutrition, health, and social services. 
Head Start legislation has long required that local programs provide 
parent involvement activities that ensure the direct participation of 
parents in the development, conduct, and overall program direction of 
local programs. However, in 1992, the Congress added a requirement that 
Head Start provide family literacy services, if these services are 
determined to be necessary. In the 1998 reauthorization of Head Start, 
the Congress clarified the definition of family literacy, requiring 
that Head Start family literacy services be of sufficient intensity and 
duration to make sustainable changes in a family. The legislation also 
required that family literacy programs integrate early childhood 
education, parenting education, parent and child interactive literacy 
activities, and adult literacy services. The same definition of family 
literacy services is found in Even Start’s legislation. Even Start 
legislation also requires that it integrate early childhood education, 
adult literacy or adult basic education and parenting education into a 
unified family literacy program. 

Head Start and Even Start Have Similar Performance Expectations and
Measures for Children, but Not for Adults: 

Head Start and Even Start have some similar measures to assess 
children’s progress but different measures for adult literacy and 
educational attainment (see table 2). [Footnote 6] 

Table 2: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Performance 
Expectations and Measures for Children’s Cognitive Growth and Adult 
Literacy and Education: 

Performance Category: Children’s Cognitive Growth; 
Head Start Expectation: Children show improvement in cognitive, 
emergent literacy, numeracy, and language skills; 
Head Start Measure: Language development, math skill, and letter
identification; 
Even Start Expectation[A]: Improve children’s language development and 
reading readiness; 
Even Start Measure: Language development. 

Performance Category: Adult Literacy and Education; 
Head Start Expectation: Parents improve self-concept and emotional well
being and make progress toward their education, literacy and employment
goals; 
Head Start Measure: Number of parents who are employed as Head Start
staff; 
Even Start Expectation[A]: Improve adult literacy and educational
attainment; 
Even Start Measure: Math and reading skill; Number earning
high school diploma or equivalent. 

[A] Even Start has the same expectations and measures for both 
preschool and school age children. 

Source: Department of Education, 2000 Performance Report and 2002 
Program Annual Plan (Washington, D.C., 2000). Department of Health and 
Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Fiscal Year 
2002 Annual Performance Plan and Fiscal Year 2001 Annual Performance
Plan and Fiscal Year 2000 Annual Performance Report (Washington, D.C., 
2000). 

[End of table] 

For example, to measure children’s cognitive growth, both programs 
measure language development. As shown in table 2, Even Start measures
adult literacy and educational attainment by measuring gains in math and
reading and by counting the number of participants earning a high school
diploma or its equivalent. Head Start measures adults’ progress toward
their educational, literacy and employment goals, by the number who are
employed as Head Start staff–not a direct measure of adult literacy or
educational attainment. According to HHS performance standards, Head
Start is an important place for employment opportunities for parents 
and a vehicle for providing additional skills for parents who are 
seeking employment or who are already employed. 

Programs Operate Differently: 

Head Start and Even Start are managed and operated in fundamentally
different ways (see fig. 3). First, Head Start is administered by the 
federal government and Even Start is administered by the states. Unlike 
some other social programs, the federal government (HHS) directly funds 
local Head Start programs. Many organizations that receive Head Start 
grant funding deliver services to Head Start participants. In some 
cases, the organization that receives the grant contracts with other 
organizations to deliver services to Head Start participants. HHS’ 10 
regional offices, which are geographically dispersed throughout the 
nation, are responsible for program oversight and management. Even 
Start is administered by the states, with the federal government 
allocating the funds to the states. The states are responsible for 
oversight and management of local programs and make decisions about 
which programs to fund. 

Figure 3: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Program Funding and 
Service Delivery Structures: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

Head Start: 
Federal government directly funds local programs run by single 
agencies. 
Single Agencies:
* Local public agencies (including school districts); 
* Local private non-profit agencies; 
* Local for-profit agencies. 

Even Start: 
Federal government allocates funds to the states; 
States hold competitions and award grants to partnerships that operate 
local programs. 
Partnerships: 
* School districts and nonprofit community based organizations; 
* School districts and institutions of higher learning; 
* School districts and other agencies. 

Source: GAO Analysis. 

Note: Head Start provides separate funding to the states to support the 
coordination activities of state Head Start collaboration offices. 

[End of figure] 

Second, although Head Start and Even Start are both formula programs,
the formulas for allocating funds differ. Although the formulas for both
programs are multifaceted and complex, Head Start funding is based in
part on the number of children in a state under age 5 living in 
poverty. The Even Start formula is based, in part, on the number of 
poor school-age children, ages 5 to 17, in a state. 

Third, Head Start and Even Start legislation have different requirements
for the types of local organizations that are eligible to receive 
funding. For Head Start, local community organizations are authorized 
to administer Head Start services. Even Start’s legislation gives 
school districts a central role in delivering services. The law 
requires local organizations to form partnerships with school districts 
in order to receive funds. Thus, eligible entities are school districts 
in partnership with nonprofit community based organizations, 
institutions of higher education, or other nonprofit organizations. 

Finally, Head Start and Even Start have different matching fund
requirements and different requirements for the sources of these 
matching funds. Head Start grantees annually may receive up to 80 
percent of total funding from the federal Head Start program funds. The 
remaining 20 percent must come from nonfederal sources and may include 
such in-kind contributions as space, staff, supplies and equipment. In 
contrast, Even Start grantees receive a maximum of 90 percent of their 
total funding in the first year from the federal Even Start program, 
but in subsequent years this share declines. In the ninth and 
subsequent years of the grant, the family literacy programs are 
expected to largely operate independent of Even Start funding, 
receiving only a maximum of 35 percent of total funding from the 
federal Even Start program (see table 3). However, matching funds, 
which also include in-kind contributions, may come from other non-Even 
Start federal sources, such as Adult Education Act funds. 

Table 3: Maximum Percent of Head Start and Even Start Funding Received 
from Federal Program Appropriations Each Grant Year: 

Year of Grant: 1st; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 90%. 

Year of Grant: 2nd; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 80%; 

Year of Grant: 3rd; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 70%. 

Year of Grant: 4th; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 60%. 

Year of Grant: 5th; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 50%. 

Year of Grant: 6th; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 50%. 

Year of Grant: 7th; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 50%. 

Year of Grant: 8th; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 50%. 

Year of Grant: 9th and subsequent years; 
Head Start[A]: 80%; 
Even Start[B]: 35%. 

[A] Matching funds must be from nonfederal sources. 

[B] Matching funds may include federal sources. 

[End of table] 

Grantees in Both Programs Provided Similar Early Childhood Services to
Poor Children, but Adult Services Differ: 

In 1999–2000, both Head Start and Even Start grantees served poor 
families with young children, but the parents they served had different
education and literacy needs and the extent to which parents received
services to meet those needs differed. Even Start parents were much more
likely than Head Start parents to lack a high school diploma and speak a
language other than English. According to agency data, parents who
enrolled their children in Head Start expected primarily to receive
education services for their young children, whereas Even Start parents
sought education and literacy services for themselves as well. At the 
sites we visited, both programs provided early childhood development and
education services, as well as health and nutrition support to young
children, but we found that adults participating in Even Start programs
were more likely to need and thus receive a range of adult education and
literacy services. 

Both Programs Served Poor Families with Young Children, but Participants
Differed in Language and Education: 

According to agency data, both Head Start and Even Start grantees 
primarily served poor families with young children, although Even Start
served infants and toddlers to a larger degree than Head Start. 
[Footnote 7] Almost all Head Start children were under age 5–95 
percent–and most were 4 years old. About one percent of the 
participants were pregnant women. About two-thirds of Even Start 
children were under age 5, and the remaining one-third were school-age 
children, 5 and older (see table 4). 


Table 4: Comparison of Head Start and Even Start Participants by 
Characteristic (Percentage of participants): 

Participant Characteristic: Parent has completed high school; 
Head Start: 73%; 
Even Start: 14%. 

Participant Characteristic: Participant child age: 0 through 2 years 
old; 
Head Start: 5%; 
Even Start: 39%. 

Participant Characteristic: Participant child age: 3 through 4 years 
old; 
Head Start: 90%; 
Even Start: 28%. 

Participant Characteristic: Participant child age: 5 years and older; 
Head Start: 5%; 
Even Start: 33%. 

Participant Characteristic: Participant child has a physical 
disability; 
Head Start: 13%; 
Even Start: 8%. 

Participant Characteristic: Family received public assistance[A]; 
Head Start: 27%; 
Even Start: 31%. 

Participant Characteristic: Ethnicity: Hispanic; 
Head Start: 27%; 
Even Start: 44%. 

Participant Characteristic: Ethnicity: African American; 
Head Start: 36%; 
Even Start: 21%. 

Participant Characteristic: Ethnicity: White; 
Head Start: 32%; 
Even Start: 30%. 

Participant Characteristic: Primary language: English; 
Head Start: 77%; 
Even Start: 54%. 

Participant Characteristic: Primary language: Spanish; 
Head Start: 19%; 
Even Start: 31%. 

[A] For Head Start, public assistance refers to families receiving 
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and for Even Start, public 
assistance refers to families receiving Temporary Assistance to
Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, and other assistance. 

Source: All information, except high school completion, reflect program 
year 1999–2000 data and were derived from Head Start’s PIR and 
Education’s ESPIRS databases. High school completion data were derived 
from Head Start’s 1996–1997 FACES and Education’s 1996–1997 ESPIRS
databases. 

[End of table] 

In both programs, these young children came from very poor families.
Most Head Start and Even Start families reported incomes of less than
$15,000.[Footnote 8] While Even Start participation is not restricted 
by income, grantees give priority for services to families at or below 
federal guidelines for poverty, families receiving public assistance, 
and families with no earned income. Almost one-third of the families 
served by Head Start and Even Start received government assistance, 
such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, according to program 
year 1999–2000 data. 

While both programs primarily served very poor families with young
children, the families differed in their parent educational attainment,
ethnicity and primary language. For example, the proportion of Even 
Start parents without high school diplomas was substantially higher 
than those participating in Head Start. About 86 percent of Even Start 
parents reported that they had not completed high school, compared to 
about 27 percent of Head Start parents. 

Hispanic children represented about a quarter of the children attending
Head Start programs and almost half of the children attending Even Start
programs. These differences in ethnicity were accompanied by differences
in the primary languages of children participating in each program. Even
Start children were much less likely to speak English as their primary
language than Head Start children, according to agency data. The vast
majority–about three-fourths–of Head Start children spoke English as 
their primary language, compared to a little over half of Even Start 
children. For about one-third of Even Start children, Spanish was the 
primary language, compared to only one-fifth of Head Start children. 

In part, the tendency of Even Start children to speak English as a 
second language may reflect their parents’ immigration from non-English 
speaking countries. According to Education’s data, about two-thirds of 
parents with children in Even Start have lived outside of the United 
States, about one-fifth have lived in the United States 5 years or 
less, and about a third of Even Start parents were educated outside the 
United States. 

Both Programs Provided Similar Early Childhood Services, but Extent to 
Which Adults Received Education and Literacy Services Differed: 

Head Start and Even Start both provided children with similar early
learning and other developmental and support services. Head Start served
primarily 3 and 4 year olds, while Even Start served a greater 
percentage of children below the age of 2. However, the extent to which 
parents of enrolled children received education and literacy services 
differed between these two programs. According to Head Start and Even 
Start program data, both programs provided young children with early
childhood education services that included developmentally appropriate
learning activities. Both programs offered home-based instruction and
center-based, half-day programs several days per week, which often
included meals, snacks, and health care support, such as mental health,
vision, immunizations, and screenings. There are some differences,
however, in services offered to children. For example, as we saw in
Niceville, Florida, the Even Start program offered home-based, 
afterschool reading support and other learning activities for school-
aged children. 

Although there were few differences in services for children, the major
difference among these programs was the extent to which adults need and
thus received education and literacy services. Only the Even Start
programs we visited considered adult education and literacy services to 
be among their primary services. According to Education’s data, Even 
Start grantees provided such services as basic adult education, adult 
secondary education services, general equivalency diploma (GED) 
preparation, and English language instruction.[Footnote 9] Many Even 
Start programs provided flexible hours of instruction, such as evening 
and weekend instruction, to accommodate the scheduling needs of 
parents. Parents most often participated in GED preparation services 
and English language instruction. About half of the parents indicated 
that obtaining their GED was a primary reason for Even Start 
enrollment, although learning English, improving their chances of 
getting a job, improving parenting skills, and obtaining early learning 
experiences for their children were also important, according to 
Education’s data. This was true of the eight Even Start parents we 
spoke with during our site visits who also told us that their primary 
reason for enrolling in Even Start was to obtain adult education and 
literacy services. Two of the Even Start programs we visited enrolled
large numbers of primarily Spanish speaking parents and other sites we
visited enrolled many recent immigrants with limited English skills. 
Many of these Even Start parents received English language instruction. 
In Frederick, Maryland for example, the Even Start official said that 
many parents with limited proficiency in English had enrolled in the 
program to improve their English language skills. Often, she said, 
parents participate only long enough to acquire the basic skills needed 
to find a job. 

Most of the adults participating in Even Start–almost three 
quarters–were unemployed, according to Education’s data, allowing Even 
Start programs to enroll both the parent and the child in a program 
that consisted of child and adult education and literacy, parenting 
education, and interactive literacy activities between the parent and 
child. At the Even Start sites we visited, adults often received 
instruction during the day as their children simultaneously received 
early childhood services nearby, often in the same building. They also 
participated in joint learning activities (see fig. 4). 

Figure 4: Comparison of Educational Components of Head Start and Even 
Start Center Programs: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

Parent and child arrive together: 

Head Start: 
Participation of child is required. Child stays and receives 
educational services, parents leave to go to work or elsewhere. Parents 
in need of adult literacy and education are linked to services. 

Even Start: 
Participation of child and adult is required. Parent and child stay and 
participate in separate activities and joint activities. Examples are: 
Parenting education; 
Adult literacy services; 
Early childhood education; 
Together time. 

[End of figure] 

For example, at the Frederick, Maryland, Even Start program, parents and
children arrived together at the community center, which houses both the
child development center and adult and family literacy center. Parents
dropped off their children at the child development center and attended
either adult literacy or basic education classes taught by an Even 
Start instructor. The parents later rejoined their children to 
participate in joint activities, such as reading, painting, or playing, 
often sharing lunch. In this way, the Even Start program integrated 
early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and 
parenting education into a unified family literacy program. Not all 
Even Start programs we visited locate children and their parents in a 
single building; however, they all provided space at some location for 
joint child and parent activities and required the joint participation 
of parents and children in the program. 

In contrast, 73 percent of the parents of children enrolled in Head 
Start had a high school diploma and thus may not have needed adult 
education and literacy services. Head Start programs did not require 
the joint participation of parents and children in the program. At the 
sites we visited, parents typically left the Head Start center after 
dropping off their children. For example, one Head Start parent told us 
that she thought of Head Start as an early learning program for 
children and had enrolled her child in Head Start to obtain early 
childhood education. This parent said she had completed high school and 
did not need adult education or literacy services. However, for those 
parents in need of adult education and literacy services, Head Start 
programs often referred them to the local public school district, local 
community college, or Even Start for help. For example, Head Start 
officials in Niceville, Florida told us that they refer adults in need 
of such services to Even Start. The Albany Park Community Center Head 
Start in Chicago offered an array of adult learning opportunities. 
However, unlike other sites we visited that received either a Head 
Start or an Even Start grant, Albany Park received both Head Start and 
Even Start grants, using funding from both to provide a unified family
literacy program. Because Head Start does not currently collect data on
the types of adult education or literacy services it provides, however, 
we could not determine the specific types of education and literacy 
services these parents received. 

Information about the Effectiveness of Head Start and Even Start Is 
Limited: 

No recent, definitive, national-level research exists about the 
effectiveness of Head Start and Even Start for the families and 
children they serve. However, both programs have effectiveness studies 
underway using a methodology that many researchers consider to be the 
most definitive method of determining a program’s effect on its 
participants. These studies reflect each program’s primary focus and 
population of interest. For instance, consistent with Head Start’s 
school readiness goal, its study focuses on children. Consistent with 
Even Start’s family literacy goal, its study is focusing on children 
and adults. Although final results of these studies are not yet 
available, HHS and Education have conducted a number of other studies 
that provide useful information about the Head Start and Even Start 
programs. These studies have prompted both legislative and programmatic 
changes intended to improve program operations. 

Major Studies Underway to Assess Program Effectiveness: 

Although there is little definitive information about the effectiveness 
or relative effectiveness of Head Start and Even Start, both programs 
are undergoing rigorous evaluations that will provide more definitive
information about their effectiveness. Both programs are currently being
evaluated using an “experimental design” in which groups of children are
randomly assigned either to a group that will receive program services 
or to a group that will not receive program services. This is an 
approach many researchers consider the best for assessing program 
effectiveness when factors other than the program are known to affect 
outcomes.[Footnote 10] To illustrate, in the case of a child, many 
influences affect his or her development. Nutrition, health, family and 
community, in conjunction with education and care, play a role in his 
or her learning. In light of all these influences, it becomes difficult 
to distinguish between the effects of the program and the other factors 
that influence a child’s learning. Figure 5 shows how this approach 
produces information that shows the effect of the program being 
studied, rather than the effects of other developmental influences on 
young children. 

Figure 5: Experimental Design for Early Childhood Program Impact 
Evaluations: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

Factors Affecting Children's Development: 
* Other Learning Experiences; 
* Physical/Psychological Maturation; 
* Parenting Practices; 
* Socioeconomic Status; 
* Parents’ Education; 
* Nutrition; 
* Health Care; 
* Community. 

Children Are Randomly Assigned to Either a Group That Receives Program 
Services or a Group That Does Not Receive Program Services. Therefore, 
the Groups Are Fundamentally the Same. 
Some receive program services; 
Others do not receive program services but can receive services through 
other programs. 

Children Are Tested at Various Ages to Plot Their Progress: 
At 3 years old; 
At 4 years old; 
At 5 years old; 
In First Grade. 

The Differences in Test Results Between the Two Groups Are Assessed. 

Any Differences Found Can Be Attributed to the Program. 

Source: GAO analysis. 

[End of figure] 

Both HHS and Education are using experimental design impact studies
performed by independent research firms to measure the effect of Head
Start and Even Start on the populations they serve. The Head Start study
focuses on children, while the Even Start study focuses on both children
and their parents. Head Start has two studies underway: one for the Head
Start program and a separate effort to evaluate Early Head Start. See 
table 5 for a summary of the objectives for these studies. 

Table 5: Objectives of Ongoing Effectiveness Studies: 

Study: The Head Start Study; 
Objectives: To determine how Head Start affects school readiness in the 
following areas as compared to children not enrolled in Head Start:
* cognitive development,
* general knowledge,
* approaches to learning,
* social and emotional development,
* communication skills,
* fine and gross motor skills, and; 
* physical well-being. 

To determine the conditions that make Head Start most effective, such 
as: 
* characteristics of children (poverty, ethnicity),
* home environments (single-parent, two-parent families),
* if program is a home-based or a center-based program, and
* characteristics of the program (staffing, curriculum, part- or full-
day, one- or two-year, availability and quality of child care and 
preschool programs in a particular area). 

Study: The Early Head Start Study; 
Objectives: To determine: 
* how Early Head Start programs affect child, parent, and family 
outcomes;
* how children perform on a wide range of cognitive, language and 
social-emotional development indicators;
* whether Early Head Start parents demonstrate more supportive and 
stimulating parenting behaviors, greater knowledge of infant-toddler 
development;
* whether Early Head Start families demonstrate more supportive home 
environments;
* how different program approaches and community contexts affect these 
outcomes;
* how program implementation and services affect outcomes; and
* how the characteristics of children and families affect outcomes. 

Study: The Even Start Study; 
Objectives: To determine
* the gains children make on measures of school readiness, vocabulary, 
and language development; and; 
* the gains adults make on measures of functional literacy, English 
acquisition, GED attainment, employment status, annual income, parent 
expectations, and parenting skills. 

[End of table] 

The Head Start study is a $28.3 million, national impact evaluation that
follows participants over time.[Footnote 11] The study has been divided 
into two phases. The first phase, a pilot study designed to test 
various procedures and methods, was conducted last year. The second 
phase is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2002 and will entail data 
collection on 5,000 to 6,000 3 and 4 year-olds from 75 programs and 
communities across the country. The study will track subjects through 
the spring of their first grade year, and results are expected in 
December 2006. Although Head Start is scheduled to be reauthorized in 
2003, an HHS official told us that the interim report scheduled for 
2003 will likely not contain findings. 

The Early Head Start evaluation is a 6-year, $21 million study enlisting
3,000 families and their children, a sample drawn from 17 different 
Early Head Start programs. Under the Early Head Start evaluation, study
participants are assessed at 14, 24 and 36 months after birth. The final
report is scheduled for completion in June 2002. The preliminary 
findings were released at the beginning of 2001. According to HHS 
officials, these early results suggest that participation in Early Head 
Start has positive effects on both children and their parents. 

The Even Start study is expected to be a 6-year, $3.6 million study 
tracking 400 Even Start families from 18 program locations and focuses 
on measuring children’s readiness for school and adult literacy. The 
final report is scheduled for completion in 2003. The current study is 
actually the second Even Start impact study conducted using an 
experimental design. The first evaluation examined Even Start programs 
operated by five grantees. As we observed in our earlier study, the 
small number of sites examined by the study and the lack of information 
on control group experiences did not permit conclusions about program 
effectiveness.[Footnote 12] 

Studies to Date Inform HHS and Education about Program Implementation
and Participant Outcomes but Reveal Little about Effectiveness: 

Although experimental-design impact evaluations are considered by many
researchers to be the most definitive method of determining the effect 
of the program on participants, other types of studies have been 
conducted by HHS and Education that provide a wide variety of data 
valuable to program managers and policymakers. Often, to answer varied, 
complex, and interrelated questions, policymakers may need to use 
several different designs to assess a single program. Different study 
designs are used depending on the questions to be answered, the nature 
of the program being studied and the type of information needed. 

For instance, Head Start is collecting outcome data on a nationally
representative sample of Head Start children and families as part of its
Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES). FACES collects a range of
data that includes cognitive, social, emotional and physical development
of Head Start children; the well-being and accomplishments of Head Start
families, and the quality of Head Start classrooms. Since this study 
does not employ an experimental design, researchers cannot attribute 
changes in children’s performance to the Head Start program. 

A study of Early Head Start, which assessed the degree to which the
program is being administered as the Congress intended, has been
completed. This study gathered information on the characteristics of
participants and the services they received. Information from this study
will be integrated with the results of the experimental design study. 
[Footnote 13] 

Since Even Start’s first national evaluation,[Footnote 14] Education 
has also made an effort to monitor Even Start’s evolution in relation 
to its legislative mandate. For example, Even Start’s first study was 
broad in scope and designed to examine the characteristics of Even 
Start participants and projects, and services provided to assess how 
closely they resembled what had been envisioned for the program. The 
study served as a catalyst for changes in the program’s legislation, 
including a shift in focus on those most in need. As a result of the 
study, teen parents and previously ineligible family members can now 
participate. 

Opportunity Exists for Additional Collaboration between the Two 
Programs: 

The Head Start and Even Start programs have similar goals and grantees 
in both programs provided similar services to children. However, the
programs differ in the extent to which they served adults. Nevertheless,
their common focus on improved educational outcomes for poor children
and their families calls for coordination between the two programs.
Indeed, federal law requires such coordination. Head Start and Even 
Start activities are coordinated with each other on many levels, with 
federal coordinating efforts more often focusing on the early childhood
development aspects of the two programs, rather than on broader family
literacy activities. While most Head Start and Even Start grantees have
reported they collaborate with one another in some way, at the program
sites we visited, we found that differences in participants and service 
areas may mean that collaboration involves only limited opportunities 
for program staff to work together. 

Both Head Start and Even Start programs are required to coordinate with
one another and with other organizations to provide child and family
support services.[Footnote 15] As a result, the programs are involved 
in several efforts to coordinate their activities with one another at 
the federal, state and local levels. Even Start’s primary effort to 
coordinate directly with Head Start at the federal level focused on 
creating complementary systems for measuring developmental and 
educational outcomes for young children. Both programs have defined 
program goals and performance indicators for young children in 
consultation with each other and Even Start is also developing a new 
tool for collecting program data that will allow it to obtain 
information on early childhood and family outcomes similar to that 
collected by Head Start through a separate data collection effort. 
[Footnote 16] Coordinated data collection is intended to help the HHS 
and Education compare programs and determine their combined 
contribution to children’s school readiness. However, officials from 
both departments said that cooperation in developing outcome measures 
for other components of family literacy, such as parenting and adult 
education, has not occurred because Head Start has made only a limited 
effort to measure its performance in this area. 

In another federal collaborative effort, Even Start has provided about
$250,000 in funding to support Head Start’s family literacy initiative. 
The funding helps to support an evolving “promising practices” national
network of Head Start family literacy programs as well as training on 
how to build a family literacy program.[Footnote 17] Lessons learned 
from model family literacy initiatives and technical assistance are to 
be shared with Even Start grantees. 

Other initiatives by Education and HHS support state and local
coordination efforts. For example, HHS and Education have both awarded
grants to states to create coordinating councils that include state-
level administrators of federal and state-funded early childhood and 
human services agencies. Head Start has funded Head Start Collaboration 
Offices in each state,[Footnote 18] while Even Start has funded an Even 
Start Consortium in 36 states. Membership in each Even Start consortium 
must include a representative from Head Start. Head Start Collaboration 
Offices are encouraged to forge links with organizations promoting 
family literacy, such as Even Start. In addition, Even Start and Head 
Start have jointly sponsored training for state and regional 
administrators on topics such as family literacy and interagency 
coordination. According to an Education contractor that provides the 
Even Start consortia with technical assistance, some state Even Start 
administrators have also collaborated with local Head Start officials 
to identify appropriate state-level performance indicators for 
children.[Footnote 19] 

At the local level, about 74 percent of Even Start grantees reported in
program year 1999–2000 that they collaborated with Head Start in some
way, including receiving cash funding, instructional or administrative
support, technical assistance, and space or job training support from 
Head Start grantees. However, the type of support most often reported 
by Even Start grantees was technical assistance, especially public 
relations support in which Head Start helped to disseminate information 
about the program through the community. About one-third of Even Start 
grantees reported receiving direct instructional, administrative 
support or space from Head Start grantees. Instead, Even Start grantees 
more often received such support from the public schools.[Footnote 20] 
About one-fourth of Even Start programs had formal partnerships with 
Head Start. 

At program sites we visited, we observed that local coordination 
activities between Head Start and Even Start grantees seemed to be 
greater where grantees were trying to serve the same group of families 
living in the same geographic area. Grantees described less interaction 
between the programs where the families served were different and 
service areas did not overlap. For example, in the state of Washington, 
where a Head Start and Even Start program are formal partners and are 
both administered by the Renton Public Schools, only a few families are 
enrolled in both programs. Local officials said this is partly due to 
the location of the two sites in different neighborhoods several miles 
apart, differences in the ages of the children served by each program, 
and differences in the adult education needs of the families. Renton 
Head Start does not serve infants and toddlers, whereas Even Start 
does. Working Head Start parents can participate in adult education 
classes primarily in the evenings, whereas Even Start offers adult 
education classes during the day only. Cooperation between the programs 
has primarily focused on joint participation in training events and 
sharing information on the few families that are enrolled in both 
programs. 

In contrast, in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, the Even Start
and Head Start programs are not only administered by the same grantee,
but they also are located in the same community center building. 
Administrators told us that cooperation and collaboration is extensive,
with a large proportion of families enrolled in both Head Start and Even
Start programs. Albany Park staff said that Even Start and Head Start
administrators work together extensively to coordinate the curriculum
between the programs and to accommodate the work schedules and learning 
needs of the many families they serve together. 

Conclusions: 

Although Head Start and Even Start both serve poor children, they differ
because these children’s parents differ substantially in their 
educational attainment and literacy. To meet the needs of parents who 
do not have high school diplomas or who have literacy needs, Even 
Start, from the beginning, designed its program to include adult 
education and literacy as core services. It also established a system 
for measuring the progress of adults in attaining adult education and 
literacy skills. Although a much larger percentage of parents with 
children enrolled in Head Start have high school diplomas, Head Start 
is a much larger program. Thus, there are still thousands of Head Start 
parents who might need and benefit from education and literacy 
services. 

Recognizing that these programs serve a similar population of children,
Head Start and Even Start have jointly developed similar outcome 
measures for children. This common framework allows policymakers and
program administrators to assess how well each program contributes to
children’s development. Joint development of indicators for adults’
progress has not occurred. Head Start’s current measure of adult 
literacy is not a direct measure of adult literacy skills and is not 
comparable with indicators used by Even Start. Lacking similar measures 
for assessing the educational and literacy level of parents, 
policymakers lack information on the relative contribution each program 
is making toward improving the education and literacy of the parents it 
serves. 

Recommendation: 

We recommend that the secretaries of HHS and of Education direct the
administrators of Head Start and Even Start to coordinate the
development of similar performance goals and indicators for adult
education and literacy outcomes and that the effort include the
identification of indicators that specifically measure adult education 
and literacy. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In commenting our report, Education observed that the report presents a
comprehensive discussion of the similarities and differences between the
Even Start Family Literacy program and the Head Start program. 
Education generally agreed with our presentation. However, since our
recommendation focused on adult literacy indicators, Education thought 
it would be helpful if we included a discussion of adult education 
programs and the purpose of the Adult Education and Family Literacy 
Act. Moreover, Education suggested that we recommend that the Head Start
Bureau should coordinate with the department’s Division of Adult
Education and Literacy, not just Even Start, in its development of adult
education-related performance indicators. Education also pointed out 
that Even Start’s family literacy goal encompasses school readiness for 
participating children. (See app. I.) Education also gave us technical
comments that were incorporated as appropriate. 

We agree that some additional information on the Adult Education and
Family Literacy Act would provide related contextual information and
included a limited discussion of the act in the report. However, because
the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act programs were not part of
this review, we have kept our recommendation limited to the Head Start
and Even Start programs. This should not be interpreted as precluding 
the Secretary of Education facilitating discussions between Head Start 
and any other office in Education that could be helpful in developing
comparable indicators. Finally, although one could broadly interpret 
Even Start’s family literacy goal as encompassing school readiness, 
this is not the stated goal of the program. Therefore we have not added 
anything to our discussion of the Even Start goal. 

The Head Start Bureau, Administration of Children and Families, said HHS
had no comments on the report. 

We are sending copies of this report to the secretaries of Health and
Human Services and the Department of Education and appropriate
congressional committees. Copies will also be made available to other
interested parties upon request. If you have questions regarding this
report, please call me at (202) 512-7215 or Eleanor Johnson, assistant
director, at (202) 512-7209. Other contributors can be found in 
appendix II. 

Signed by: 

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

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the Department of Education: 

United States Department Of Education: 
Office Of Elementary And Secondary Education: 
The Assistant Secretary: 
600 Independence Ave. S.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20202-6100: 
"Our mission is to ensure equal access to education and to promote 
educational excellence throughout the Nation." 

March 15, 2002: 

Ms. Marnie S. Shaul: 
Director: 
Education, Workforce, and Income Security Issues: 
U.S. General Accounting Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Ms. Shaul: 

This is in response to your letter to Secretary Paige requesting the 
Department of Education's comments on the draft report, Head Start and 
Even Start: Greater Collaboration Needed on Measures of Adult Education 
and Literacy (GAO-02-348). Thank you for the opportunity to comment. 

The report presents a comprehensive discussion of the similarities and 
differences between the Even Start Family Literacy program and the Head 
Start program. It does not, however, include a discussion of adult 
education programs and the purpose of the Adult Education and Family 
Literacy Act (AEFLA). Since the recommendation in the report is related 
to the development of adult education measures, the inclusion of 
background on the AEFLA would provide the reader with a useful context 
for the recommendation. 

In addition, the report compares the goals, the administrative 
structures, the evaluations, and the populations served by Even Start 
and Head Start. The report states "while both programs are required to 
provide education and literacy services to children and their families, 
Head Start's goal is to prepare children to enter school while Even 
Start's goal is to improve family literacy and education." I would like 
to point out that Even Start's family literacy goal encompasses school 
readiness for participating children. Even Start provides family-
centered education services for families that include children from 
birth through age seven, and school readiness for participating 
preschool age children is an important aspect of improving the 
educational level of a family. In addition, all States are required to 
develop and use indicators of program quality that include an indicator 
related to children's reading ability or reading readiness. 

The report also includes a recommendation for improved coordination 
between Head Start and Even Start on performance goals and indicators 
for adult education and literacy. Given the large number of Head Start 
parents in need of adult education services, I agree that such 
coordination is needed. The Even Start program has coordinated at the 
Federal and State levels with the adult education community, and many 
States have established common adult education performance indicators 
for Even Start and AEFLA programs. Therefore, we believe that the Head 
Start Bureau should coordinate with the Department's Division of Adult 
Education and Literacy, not just with Even Start, in its development of 
adult education-related performance indicators. 

if I can be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact 
me at (202) 401-0113. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contacts: 

Virginia Vanderlinde (206) 287-4823, vanderlindev@gao.gov: 
Sherri Doughty (202) 512-7273, doughtys@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgments: 

In addition to those named above, Tiffany Boiman, James Rebbe, Stan
Stenersen, and Jill Peterson made key contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Bilingual Education: Four Overlapping Programs Could Be Consolidated 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-01-657]. Washington, 
D.C.: May 14, 2001. 

Early Childhood Programs: Characteristics Affect the Availability of
School Readiness Information. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-
bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-00-38]. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 2000. 

Early Childhood Programs: The Use of Impact Evaluations to Assess 
Program Effects. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-01-
542]. Washington, D.C.: April 16, 2001. 

Early Education and Care: Overlap Indicates Need to Assess Crosscutting 
Programs. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-00-
78]. Washington, D.C.: April 28, 2000. 

Evaluations of Even Start Family Literacy Program Effectiveness. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-00-58R]. 
Washington, D.C.: March 8, 2000. 

Head Start: Challenges in Monitoring Program Quality and Demonstrating 
Results. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-98-
186]. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 1998. 

Head Start Programs: Participant Characteristics, Services, and 
Funding. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-98-65]. 
Washington, D.C.: March 31,1998. 

Head Start: Research Provides Little Information on Impact of Current 
Program. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-97-59]. 
Washington, D.C.: April 15, 1997. 

Title I Preschool Education: More Children Served but Gauging Effect on 
School Readiness Difficult. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-
bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-00-171]. Washington, D.C.: September 20, 2000. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] U.S. General Accounting Office, Early Education and Care: Overlap 
Indicates Need to Assess Crosscutting Programs, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-00-78] (Washington, D.C.: 
April 28, 2000). 

[2] In this report, all dollar figures are in current dollars. 

[3] For example, the federal poverty guideline was $17,050 for a family 
of four in fiscal year 2000. 

[4] For school age parents, school districts are required to provide 
the basic education services. 

[5] Children 8 and older can be served if services are provided in 
collaboration with Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Title I, 
Part A services. 

[6] Both programs have other measures of program and participant 
performance. For example, Head Start has measures for children’s social 
emotional health, and Even Start has goals related to recruiting the 
most needy families and program quality. 

[7] The national-level data were obtained from three separate 
databases. Head Start data were obtained primarily from Head Start 
Program Information Report (PIR) database, which covered program year 
1999–2000. We supplemented the PIR data with additional information 
from the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), which
covered program year 1996–1997. Even Start data were obtained from 
Education’s Even Start Performance Information Reporting System 
(ESPIRS) database, which covered program years 1999–2000 and 1996–1997. 
Although we did not test the reliability of the data, they are commonly 
used by agencies and academic researchers. 

[8] Head Start and Even Start calculate family income differently, 
however. Therefore, income data are not directly comparable. 

[9] In addition to the Even Start Family Literacy program, Education 
also administers the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C 
1201 et seq.). The objectives of this program are to create a 
partnership among the federal government, states and localities to 
provide, on a voluntary basis, adult education and literacy services, 
in order to assist adults to become literate and obtain the knowledge 
and skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency; assist adults 
who are parents to obtain the education skills necessary to become full 
partners in the educational development of their children; and assist 
adults in the completion of a secondary school education. 

[10] See U.S. General Accounting Office, Early Childhood Programs: The 
Use of Impact Evaluations to Assess Program Effects, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-01-542] (Washington, D.C.: April 
16, 2001). 

[11] This study responds in part to a 1997 GAO recommendation that HHS 
conduct an assessment of the impact of regular Head Start programs. See 
U.S. General Accounting Office, Head Start: Research Provides Little 
Information on Impact of Current Program, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO/HEHS-97-59] (Washington, D.C.: 
April 15, 1997). 

[12] U.S. General Accounting Office, Early Childhood Programs: The Use 
of Impact Evaluations to Assess Program Effects, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-01-542] (Washington, D.C.: April 
16, 2001). 

[13] Department of Health and Human Services, Building Their Futures: 
How Early Head Start Programs are Enhancing the Lives of Infants and 
Toddlers in Low-Income Families, Summary Report (Washington, D.C, 
2001). 

[14] Robert G. St. Pierre and Janet P. Swartz and others, Improving 
Family Literacy: Findings from the National Even Start Evaluation (Abt 
Associates Inc., 1996). 

[15] 20 U.S.C .6365(9); 42 U.S.C. 9837 (c). 

[16] The Classroom Literacy Environment and Outcomes study, funded by 
the Department of Education’s Planning and Evaluation Service, will 
evaluate the Even Start Family Literacy Program and the Title I Early 
Childhood Education Programs. The study is being coordinated with 
FACES. 

[17] The Head Start Bureau has contracted with the National Center for 
Family Literacy to manage this program and provide technical assistance 
to Head Start and Even Start grantees. 

[18] Collaboration Offices have been funded also in the District of 
Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

[19] All states were required to identify and submit state-level 
performance indicators to Education by June 30, 2001. 

[20] Specifically, Even Start grantees reported receiving instructional 
staff, administrative support, technical staff, space and equipment 
more often from public school elementary education and public school 
adult education departments than from Head Start. 

[End of section] 

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