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. Following the re-authorization of Head Start in 1998, Head Start programs were required to include child outcomes in their self-assessment process by 2003. The National Reporting System began the same year.
Although Early Head Start programs have not been required to report child outcomes, many have started to define and measure outcomes. In spring 2001, the Head Start Bureau, at the urging of the Early Head Start Technical Work Group, 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 recent completion of the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project also makes the time ripe for developing a new performance measures framework. The pattern of program impacts by age 3 and variations in impacts by program approach and key aspects of program implementation (ACYF, 2002) provide insights into ways that the Head Start framework must be adapted for programs serving families with infants and toddlers.
This document presents the program performance measures framework for Head Start programs serving infants and toddlers that resulted from an iterative process during which a wide range of stakeholders were consulted.