RECAP Annual Report, 2020-21
RECAP, which stands for the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership, has been a core component of our work at Children’s Institute for the past three decades.
In April 2022, the RECAP assessment team released the twenty-fourth annual report, which covers data primarily from the 2020-21 school year, with additional preliminary insights from fall 2021. This publication marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership.
RECAP was formed to evaluate and continuously improve Rochester’s Pre-K system. RECAP has been instrumental in documenting and contributing to the long-term continuous improvement of Pre-K that was established and continues to evolve in Rochester, New York. Through RECAP, Rochester has been able to sustain a high-performing, quality Pre-K system.
The 2020-21 school year was unprecedented in many regards, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting virtual learning model. This report also includes data on pre-kindergarten student performance and social-emotional skills from the 2021-22 school year. This is the first glimpse of representative data since the first half of the 2019-20 school year (pre-pandemic), a nearly two-year gap. There were several notable findings, including:
- During 2020-21, a year marked by primarily virtual or hybrid learning models, attendance declined throughout the year. For comprehensive programs with additional resources, attendance was stable or increased throughout the year.
- Screenings during the 2020-21 school year showed that, for 4-year-olds, there was a 9% increase in student scores indicating “determine need for formal evaluation” compared to the prior year.
- Our Get Ready to GROW initiative was successful in screening over 600 preschoolers during the 2020-21 school year. The largest area of risk was language, with 41.2% of students in need of follow-up or referral, and physical health, with 47.0% in need of a follow-up or referral.
- In Fall 2021, 20% of 3-year-olds were significantly below average on multiple social-emotional factors, and approximately 18% of 4-year-olds were significantly below average on multiple social-emotional factors. These percentages are higher than we have seen in prior years before the pandemic.
- Results from a whole-child assessment (the COR-Advantage) show that 4-year-olds are significantly behind compared to pre-COVID cohorts. We found that Pre-K-4 students had statistically significant lower scores on all subscales including the COR overall score compared to 2019 (effect size d = .16). Three-year-olds were also behind in some areas, including creative arts and science and technology, compared to fall 2019.
The information published in the Twenty-Fourth Annual Report of the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership will inform practices to improve Pre-K as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report offers several recommendations for moving forward to strengthen Rochester’s Pre-K programs, including a focus on improving kindergarten readiness and children’s social and emotional health.
Through 30 years of work with RECAP, we have learned numerous lessons on what it takes to produce high-quality Pre-K, including:
- A focus on social-emotional learning through implementation of the Pyramid Model.
- Attention to comprehensive kindergarten readiness with continuing attention to all aspects of child development (e.g., physical, social, emotional, language, academic, etc.).
- Immersion in programming such as full-day Pre-K, an additional year of Pre-K for three-year-olds, and summer programming; all of which have been associated with greater gains in student outcomes.
- Consistent and reliable classroom quality observation across the Pre-K system, conducted annually and in a low-stakes manner (i.e., teachers and programs are not punished based on results). Classroom quality observations can and should support teacher coaching and learning. Observations provide essential information for achieving program improvement and measuring existing and resulting strengths over time.
- Family engagement and parent approval of Pre-K programming is an essential focus of PreK systems and has remained so in RECAP.