Head Start is Leading by Exemplar


Leading By Exemplar Report

One of the unique aspects of Head Start is its commitment to continuous improvement and the collaborative nature of employees across the country. Head Start staffers are always asking questions and learning from each other. In an effort to systematically learn from top Head Start programs around the country, Ashley LiBetti and Sara Mead of Bellwether Education Partners conducted a three-year investigation into the practices of five exemplary Head Start programs.

The result of this work is a series of reports called Leading by Exemplar: Lessons from Head Start Programs. The series identifies the unique factors that contribute to each of the programs' success in the three areas: program policies, practices, and enabling conditions, while also identifying and analyzing common challenges across each of the exemplar programs.

In an effort to make these accessible to the entire whole Head Start field and to help us all learn from each other, NHSA is developing easily-digestible handouts with key takeaways from the Leading by Exemplar reports. These resources are intended to spark conversation amongst programs nationwide as we continue to learn about the practices and policies that make Head Start a success for our nation's children and families.

Who are the exemplars?

As defined by the report's authors, the exemplars are "Head Start programs with demonstrable evidence of positive effects on children's learning that are substantially larger than those of typical Head Start or other early childhood programs and, ideally, sustained beyond kindergarten entry." These are certainly not the only exemplary Head Start programs across the country, but they are the five that were analyzed here.

Summary Handouts

  1. Curriculum and Fidelity
  2. Teacher Credentials and Selection
  3. Staff Retention
  4. Professional Development
  5. Family Engagement
  6. Data Utilization
  7. Meeting the Needs of DLLs



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