In September of 2003, the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation (OPRE) contracted with Mathematica to prepare design options for potential evaluations of Head Start quality enhancements. In light of Head Start's significant focus on quality improvement and the development and implementation of a wide range of enhancement ideas, this project was intended to explore ways to maximize learning from innovation.
The project developed a framework for designing rigorous evaluations of enhancement initiatives and program variations in Head Start. The framework provides flexible guidelines for designing research to evaluate the effectiveness of specific quality enhancements in Head Start across a range of different settings, on either a small or large scale. The final report lays out this framework, identifies specific quality enhancement ideas related to Head Start’s current activities and priorities, and describes appropriate evaluation options. While the report highlights specific interventions, the framework can be applied to any number of interventions.