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High-achieving children off to a good Head Start academically and socially, but study shows some are not 'turned on' by school

The highest-achieving children who were exposed to the Head Start program before entering elementary school are thriving academically and socially at the end of the third grade, but data from a new national study creates worries that their future success may be tempered by their luke-warm attitude toward school.

Results of the study, which also looked at family factors that may contribute to academic success of the children, will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association by Nancy Robinson, a University of Washington child psychologist and director of the university's Halbert Robinson Center for Capable Youth.

The research focused on 162 children, the highest achieving three percent from the multi-site National Head Start/Public School Early Childhood Transition Demonstration Project that involved 5,400 children. Funded by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the demonstration project included children from 30 states and the Navajo Nation. More than 450 schools in 85 school districts participated.

Robinson said teachers rated the high-achieving children as significantly more socially competent, more motivated to succeed academically and showing more positive overall classroom behavior than other students. Teachers also viewed the parents of high achievers as more supportive in encouraging their children to succeed in school than other parents, she said, even though these parents didn't report this behavior. Parents also rated their high-achieving children as better skilled socially, but not necessarily more cooperative or well-behaved.

"This isn't surprising because talented children usually thrive in school," said Robinson. "But we had hoped that these children would have loved school because their best hope and insurance for continued high achievement is loving school. But they are no different from the other children in the study. They are not t
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
24-Aug-1999


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