The 2004 State Preschool Yearbook is the second in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States, produced by The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). The 2004 Yearbook describes state-funded prekindergarten in the 2002-2003 school year. The first annual State Preschool Yearbook focused on programs for the 2001-2002 school year and established a baseline against which we may now measure progress. Tracking these trends is essential, since changes in states’ policies on preschool education will influence how successfully America’s next generation will compete in the knowledge economy.
This Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section provides background information on preschool education in the United States, a description of our data collection and analytical methods, a national summary of our findings, and national policy recommendations. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state’s policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources. In addition to basic program descriptions, these state profiles describe unique features of a state’s program and recent changes that can be expected to alter the future Yearbook statistics on a program. Unlike last year’s Yearbook, the states without state-funded programs also have their own profile pages. Finally, the last section of the report contains appendices, including tables that provide the complete survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start and child care data.
State-funded preschool programs represent an important component of the nation’s patchwork of early childhood education programs. NIEER has developed the State Preschool Yearbook series to provide information on services offered through these programs to children at ages 3 and 4. We hope that this report will serve as a resource for policymakers, advocates, and researchers to make more informed decisions as state-funded preschool moves forward.
While parents strive to guide children’s growth and development in the home, state and local governments bear primary responsibility for classroom-based education in the United States. Programs that serve young children operate under a variety of names and auspices, including the federal Head Start program as well as privately and publicly funded child care. State prekindergarten programs will play an increasingly important role as part of this larger array of programs. The Yearbook seeks to improve the public’s knowledge and understanding of state efforts to expand the availability of high-quality education to young children in the 21st century.