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IES Grant

Title: Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges Network Lead
Center: NCER Year: 2022
Principal Investigator: Brock, Thomas Awardee: Teachers College, Columbia University
Program: Community College Recovery Research Network      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (09/01/2022 – 08/31/2025) Award Amount: $3,000,000
Type: Other Goal Award Number: R305X220022

Co-Principal Investigators: Kurlaender, Michal; Shapiro, Doug

Education Agencies: California Community Colleges (CCC); Michigan Community College Association (MCCA); State University of New York (SUNY); Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE); Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR); Texas Association of Community Colleges

Related Network Teams: The Community College Recovery Research Network, part of the Improving Pandemic Recovery grant program, includes this Network Lead project and the following other projects — Evidence to Inform Improvement: Supporting California Community Colleges in Pandemic Recovery (R305X220016); Leveraging Technology and Engaging Students: Evaluating Covid-19 Recovery Efforts in the Los Angeles Community College District (R305X220018); Strengthening Virginia's Pandemic Recovery Efforts: Providing High-Quality Community College Workforce Education to Underserved Adults (R305X220024)

A Research Network involves several teams of researchers who are working together to address a critical education problem or issue. The objective is to encourage information sharing, build new knowledge, and assist policymakers and practitioners to strengthen education policies and programs and improve student education outcomes. The Community College Recovery Research Network was established in September 2022 to conduct research to support strategies for counteracting declines in postsecondary enrollment and academic progress that occurred for many learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. This Network addresses the needs of student subgroups identified in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, many of whom were acutely impacted by disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Each project within the network includes at least one education agency. The Network Lead and Research Teams will work collaboratively with the agencies to identify, explore, evaluate, and improve programs and policies designed to accelerate re-engagement and academic progress for all learners, with a specific focus on impacted subgroups.

Purpose: The Community College Recovery Research Network Lead provides the organizational structure needed to ensure that the Network runs smoothly and accomplishes its goals and objectives. The Network Lead coordinates bi-annual meetings of the entire Network as well as ongoing working group meetings focused on crucial pandemic recovery topics. The Lead will conduct independent research on pandemic recovery activities and enrollment patterns at community colleges across the United States to inform the network, policymakers, practitioners, and the broader public. The Lead will collaborate with Network Research Teams to support their research and dissemination activities.

Project Activities: The Lead will coordinate network meetings and activities and organize working groups on issues of cross-cutting importance to the research teams. The Lead will conduct a national scan of student enrollment, outcomes, and subgroup trends; examine how federal recovery funds are used; and conduct a survey of community colleges to learn more about their responses and unmet needs related to the pandemic. The Lead will convene a national advisory board to establish a forum for identifying recovery research needs and will connect with other stakeholders involved in recovery activities through workshops and webinars.

Products: The Lead will disseminate Network findings by maintaining a high-quality website, using social media, and actively participating in national conferences and meetings. The Lead will release a series of briefs, papers, and datasets from the national study of student enrollment, outcomes, and subgroup trends; the examination of community college expenditures from the Higher Education Emergency Relief funds; and the survey of community colleges in five states. In addition, the Lead will produce a research synthesis of the Network's findings.

Structured Abstract

Setting: A broad analysis of student enrollment patterns will include students at all public community colleges located across the 50 states and territories of the United States. The assessment of recovery activities will focus on community colleges in California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. In-person Network meetings will take place virtually and in-person, twice on the East Coast and once on the West Coast.

Stakeholders: Federal and state policymakers, college leaders, administrators, and faculty, and the broader public including students and their families.

Activity Structure and Goals: The Network Lead will engage in three primary activities:

  1. Assessment of Student Needs and College Recovery Activities. The Lead team seeks to provide up-to-date information that policymakers and administrators can use to guide policy and program development in the post-pandemic period. Using primary and secondary data sources, the Lead team will provide timely and reliable information on the recovery needs of disproportionately affected student subgroups and the recovery activities implemented by colleges and college systems. First, drawing on the vast student records collected each year by the National Student Clearinghouse, the team will provide annual reports on student enrollments, outcomes, and subgroup trends to gauge progress in pandemic recovery and identify in real time the places and populations that are in greatest need of intervention. Second, the team will assemble and analyze U.S. Department of Education data on community college expenditures from the Higher Education Emergency Relief funds to examine what was spent on emergency aid for students or other institutional purposes. Third, the team will conduct a survey of community colleges in six states—California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas—to gain deeper insight into the specific pandemic recovery activities they have put in place, which learner subgroups have been targeted and for which purposes, and what issues still need to be addressed. Each of these studies will result in publicly available briefs and working papers as well as data that researchers can use to answer additional questions.
  2. Collaboration with Network Research Teams. Twice each year, the Lead team will convene the research team PIs and co-PIs to facilitate cross-team discussion and learning. Soon after commencing the project, the team will organize one working group to design and conduct an institutional survey to describe pandemic recovery activities implemented by community colleges, and a second working group to align plans for defining and analyzing student subgroups. Throughout the project period, the team will form additional working groups in response to needs expressed by the Teams, the national advisory board, and the program office.
  3. National Leadership and Dissemination. The Lead will organize and host interactive workshops and webinars to ensure that the research produced by the network is broadly disseminated and is used to inform community college practice and policymaking. The Lead will convene a national advisory board as a forum for identifying and discussing pandemic research recovery needs and improving Network dissemination strategies. The Lead will develop a visually compelling website that elevates the work of the research teams and synthesizes information and resources for community college practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. The Lead will expand Network visibility and reach through use of social media and presentations at the national conferences and meetings organized by community college associations, education policy organizations, and education research associations. The Lead will produce a final synthesis of the network's findings that elevates cross-cutting themes and addresses the implications for higher education policy, practice, and future research.