The 2005 State Preschool Yearbook is the third in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. The 2005 Yearbook primarily focuses on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2004-2005 school year, and also presents data from 2003-2004. The first report in this series focused on programs for the 2001-2002 school year and established a baseline against which we may now measure progress over 4 years. 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.
The 2005 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section provides a summary of the data, and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and state spending on preschool. This section also offers recommendations for improving state preschool in the future. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state's policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2004-2005 program year. 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. Profile pages are again included for states without state-funded programs. A description of our methodology follows the state profiles. Finally, the last section of the report contains appendices, including tables that provide the complete 2003-2004 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, and U.S. Census data.
State-funded preschool programs represent an important component of the nation's patchwork of early childhood education programs. The National Institute for Early Education Research 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.