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Title:A longitudinal case study of Head Start eligible children: Implications for urban education
Author:Slaughter-Defoe, D. T., & Rubin, H.
Resource Type:Journal Article
Educational Psychologist, 36(1)

pp. 31-44
Education Level:Elementary
Literature type:Research and Evaluation

This study examines and weighs the contribution of various early determinants to high school students' long-range educational goals. Researchers believed that if students felt positively reinforced by earlier educational experiences in programs such as Head Start, then they would more likely pursue high school graduation and beyond. The most significant findings "were those reflecting the extent to which early academic success (grades obtained before grade 2) predicted the educational goals of students in their 13th year of formal schooling. The ideal aspirations of the 12th graders seemed to have been largely influenced by these early indicators of school success (accounting for 31.4% of the variance in level of goal setting).Ó Study participants included 47 students, 41 of whom were still enrolled in the high school day program, and 6 of whom were enrolled in the evening division. Students completed questionnaires about their perceived educational and career goals for high school and beyond. Intervening variables included grades, age, perceived parental encouragement, and teacher characteristics. Although the case study did not indicate that simply having participated in an 8-week Head Start program affected educational goal setting, either directly or indirectly, it implies that the teacher quality in early childhood programs should become the focus of those programs, as opposed to the current focus on moving from custodial child care to early childhood education. The role and influence of peers, including classroom and school racial composition, and friendship patterns in the educational goal setting of children and youth are crucial to future research.

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