First National Study of Region XI AI/AN Head Start Children and Their Families, Classrooms, and Programs

May 23, 2018

Mother and child readingData from the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES 2015) describe the developmental progress of Region XI Head Start children as they complete a year in the preschool program. Region XI serves children and families in programs operated by federally recognized AI/AN tribes. These programs serve about 20,000 children, the majority of whom are AI/AN. Mathematica Policy Research conducted AI/AN FACES 2015, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Through nearly two years of planning, Mathematica maintained an active partnership with Region XI AI/AN programs and sought advice from members of a stakeholder workgroup committed to ensure that tribal voices were at the forefront.

A series of new reports summarizes findings based on the 2015–2016 program year:

Selected findings demonstrate that Region XI children make gains in language, literacy, and math skills across the program year but score lower than children of the same age nationally. These findings are similar to other studies of Head Start children and identify an opportunity for growth. On average, teachers report that Region XI children have better social skills, more positive approaches to learning, and improved performance on a measure of executive function in the spring compared with the fall. The study examined some of the cultural and linguistic experiences of children. Specifically, although 94 percent of parents report in the fall that English is the primary language they use at home, 47 percent of AI/AN children in Region XI have families that speak a tribal language at home. In the spring, 56 percent of all Region XI children are in classrooms that receive tribal language lessons, and 75 percent are in centers with a culture or language specialist. Findings such as these are a starting point for understanding Region XI children’s strengths and needs and provide insights on potential areas for supporting their healthy development and learning.

Interested in learning more about the available data? Register for the June 4 webinar.

Join Research Connections, along with researchers from Mathematica Policy Research and the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, for a webinar on the new American Indian and Alaska Native Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 (AI/AN FACES 2015) data file. The webinar will be held on June 4, 2018, and will introduce researchers to the study’s purposes, design, instruments, data structure, and data access requirements. See the webinar registration link and contact Ambyr Amen-Ra at ambyrb@umich.edu for questions.


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  • Head Start: The Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES)

    Mathematica conducted five-year studies of the 2006 and 2009 FACES cohorts, and, for the most recent study (2014-2018), redesigned FACES to provide key data more rapidly and with greater frequency and to help researchers examine more complex issues and topics in greater detail and efficiency.

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