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Georgia Recognized as National Leader for Preschool Education

Thursday, February 19, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Atlanta, GA - Governor Sonny Perdue today welcomed the findings released by a national research institute recognizing Georgia for its "exemplary" preschool program.

"Our Pre-K team has demonstrated good stewardship over Georgia's most important early education program, but we can do more with our many other early care and education resources. By merging them into the proposed Bright from the Start: Georgia's Office of Early Care and Education, our early education experts will be able to develop content standards for all young children in childcare centers," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "This will get more young children to kindergarten ready for school."

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Georgia ranks among the very highest in the nation for preschool enrollment and resources. Georgia is second in the nation for enrollment in preschool for 4-year-olds, with nearly 55 percent enrolled. In the 2001-2002 school year, the year analyzed by NIEER, Georgia's Pre-K program served 63,613 children. In the 2003-2004 school year, the Pre-K program is serving 68,226 children.

NIEER released its annual preschool report, State of Preschool: 2003 State Preschool Yearbook, during a ceremony today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Three state programs were classified as exemplary - Georgia, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. NIEER evaluated all state-funded preschool programs across the country, focusing on access, quality standards, and funding. NIEER reports that most states are failing, citing low enrollment in preschool programs, low quality standards, and insufficient funding.

"Georgia was the first state to offer universal preschool to those families who chose to participate," said Steve Barnett, NIEER Director. "The access Georgia provides to its children, combined with the resources and quality scores, earned the state program the designation of "an exemplary state" in the report." A copy of the full NIEER report may be accessed at

The NIEER report follows an announcement last month by the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) giving Georgia's Pre-K program high marks for its content standards. CIERA gave each state a report card on the mathematics and language/literacy standards used by its Pre-K program. The program's content standards in both academic areas scored an overall grade of A.