As a national laboratory for early childhood education, Head Start has long emphasized continuous program improvement and has been a leader in developing outcome-oriented accountability. Head Start began developing program performance measures in 1995, and in 1997 the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES; ACYF, 2001) was launched to collect data on the performance indicators underlying the performance measures. Following the re-authorization of Head Start in 1998, Head Start programs were required to include child outcomes in their self-assessment by 2003. Furthermore, the National Reporting System, a new national child outcomes and assessment reporting system for all 4 and 5 year old children, was initiated in 2003.
Although Early Head Start programs have not been required to report child outcomes or participate in the National Reporting System, many have started to define and measure outcomes. In spring 2001, the Head Start Bureau, decided to develop program performance measures for Head Start programs serving infants and toddlers (Early Head Start and Migrant Head Start) to support these efforts. The brief document entitled, Program Performance Measures for Head Start Programs Serving Infants and Toddlers, outlines the framework of intended goals for management systems, services, and outcomes for children and families as well as underlying performance measures for each goal. This framework is designed to support continuous program improvement efforts of individual programs as well as at the regional and national levels. The document entitled Serving Infants and Toddlers: A Resource Guide for Measures Services and Outcomes provides information for programs on creating a performance measurement plan, including guidelines for choosing appropriate measures and detailed information on selected instruments.