Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Charles M. Achilles, EdD

Committee Member

Helen Ditzhazy, PhD

Committee Member

Ellen Hoffman, EdD


The Head Start fade effect, documented since the 1970s, finds that students who make gains in I.Q. and social skills in the Head Start program later see those positive effects diminish in the early years of schooling and disappear altogether by the end of third grade. The hypothesis proposed in this study was as follows: Group I Head Start students who experience full-day kindergarten every day in small classes, and continue in small classes through grades one, two, and possibly three, will not demonstrate the Head Start fade effect, or will have less fade, than Group II Head Start students who have half-day kindergarten on alternating days in small classes and who have large classes in grades one, two, and possibly three. This objective of the study was to test a set of previously established theories that when applied would mitigate or eliminate the fade-out effect experienced by Head Start participants in most programs.

To accomplish this objective, this study used a used a non-experimental, longitudinal, retrospective explanatory design. The method involved tracking the progress of two groups of children, a treatment group and a control group, from three of school districts in Michigan for a period of seven years, starting with the Head Start program. It also used two formats for yearly assessment, norm-referenced tests (NRT) and criterion-referenced tests (CRT). The results of this study showed no statistically significant fade effect for the participants. It is the conclusion of this researcher that applying the theories used in this study can mitigate the Head Start fade effect for young children and strengthen their opportunities for improved achievement and long-term success.


Additional committee member: Jaclynn Tracy, PhD