Assessments of Twenty-Six Early Childhood Evaluations

Chapter 10 - Even Start Family Literacy Program (1st National Evaluation)
Introduction to the Original Evaluation (Excerpt)

The Even Start Family Literacy Program was originally authorized by Congress in 1965 and reauthorized in 1994. The Even Start program is intended to: "help break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy by improving the educational opportunities of the Nation's low-income families by integrating early childhood education, adult literacy or adult basic education, and parenting education into a unified family literacy program."

Robert St. Pierre, Janet Swartz, Beth Gamse, Stephen Murray, Dennis Deck, and Phil Nickel, researchers at Abt Associates Inc. (the "Abt team"), conducted the first Even Start evaluation which covered the program between 1991 and 1993. The evaluation used random assignment, but was plagued by numerous problems in the randomization process. Other problems included a small sample size and high levels of attrition in the study sites. These problems were so serious that no conclusions could be drawn regarding the impact of the program. The second Even Start evaluation covered the 1993 to 1997 period. No control or comparison groups were used in this evaluation, however, so it could not address questions about the program's impacts and, hence, it is not included in this volume. The third evaluation was 2 conducted by Abt Associates for the 1997 to 2001 period and this random assignment evaluation appears to have been implemented without the problems that plagued the first evaluation (see chapter 9).

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