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Research Network to Study Pandemic Recovery in Community Colleges

A new network of research teams, led by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) in partnership with the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and the University of California, Davis Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research, is embarking on a three-year project to study ways to combat community college enrollment drops and learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, the Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges Network (ARCC Network) will explore strategies such as enhanced financial aid, innovative workforce programs, improved online and hybrid education, new course formats, and more, with a particular focus on students of color, low-income students, first-generation students, and adult students — those groups most impacted by the pandemic at community colleges. The network will tap into student records data from the National Student Clearinghouse to "gauge progress in pandemic recovery and identify the places and populations that are in greatest need of intervention," as well as "work closely with community colleges and college systems to identify and evaluate programs and policies designed to bring students back to college and accelerate their academic progress," CCRC explained in a news announcement.

"There is deep concern about the steep drop in enrollment at community colleges, particularly among Black and Indigenous students," said Tom Brock, director of CCRC, in a statement. "The goal of the network is to identify strategies that community colleges can use to bring students back, support their learning, and ensure they can succeed in the rapidly evolving post-pandemic economy. This work is critical for students and colleges that have been set back by the COVID pandemic."

Currently, there are three research projects taking place within the network (more projects from the Institute of Education Science's education research grants program may be added over time):

The ARCC Network lead team also plans to study how federal recovery funds are being spent at community colleges, and conduct a survey to learn more about community colleges' responses to the pandemic and issues that still need to be addressed, CCRC said. It will also coordinate the sharing of research findings in order to "have the maximum impact on practice and policy."

For more information, visit the CCRC site.  

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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