The State of Preschool 2008

The State of Preschool 2008

by W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., Dale J. Epstein, Ph.D., Allison H. Friedman, Ed.M., Judi Stevenson Boyd, Ed.M., Jason T. Hustedt, Ph.D.

The 2008 State Preschool Yearbook is the sixth in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. This latest Yearbook presents data on state-funded prekindergarten during the 2007-2008 school year. 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 seven 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 2008 Yearbook is organized into three major sections. The first section offers a summary of the data, and describes national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on preschool. The second section presents detailed profiles outlining each state's policies with respect to preschool access, quality standards, and resources for the 2007-2008 program year. In addition to providing 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. The last section of the report contains appendices, which are available online only. The appendices include tables that provide the complete 2007-2008 survey data obtained from every state, as well as Head Start, child care, U.S. Census, and special education data.

State-funded preschool programs represent an important and sizeable 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 education 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.

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