Research network to examine strategies to help colleges bounce back post-pandemic


The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University will lead a federally funded research network to investigate ways to help community colleges recover from draconian enrollment drops and learning loss due to the Covid pandemic.

The Accelerating Recovery in Community Colleges Network (ARCC Network) will include research teams that will study recovery strategies, including enhanced financial aid, innovative workforce programs, improved online and hybrid education, new course formats, and more, according to a CCRC release. The U.S. Education Department’s the Institute of Education Sciences is funding the effort.

Three research teams will operate projects in two states, California and Virginia. More projects may be added to the network.

CCRC will partner with the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research at the University of California, Davis to lead the network. The lead team will issue two annual reports on:

  • Student enrollment and transfer
  • How federal recovery funds are being spent
  • Community colleges’ responses to the pandemic and their unmet needs (based on information from a survey that will include colleges in California, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas).

“There is deep concern about the steep drop in enrollment at community colleges, particularly among Black and Indigenous students,” Tom Brock, the director of CCRC, said in the release. “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.”

The network will focus on the groups most affected by the pandemic at community colleges, including students of color, low-income students, first-generation students and adult students.

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