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CRPE, Walton fund 9 ‘rapid research’ studies to explore pandemic effects on teens, young adults

Students line up on socially distanced dots painted on the sidewalk to wait their turn to have their temperatures checked before entering Middletown High School.

With generous support from the Walton Family Foundation, the Center on Reinventing Public Education has chosen to fund nine quick-turn research projects that will study how Covid-19 has affected high school students and recent graduates.

The projects are the first to be commissioned by CRPE—with the help of a $9 million Walton grant—to spur critically needed research on academic recovery and new practices to reimagine education in the wake of pandemic-era school disruptions.

For the first round of commissioned studies, we launched a request for proposals in March for rapid research on the impact of Covid-19 on teens and young adults and emerging solutions to better serve them. The effects of the pandemic are still being assessed, but we know we need evidence-based solutions to help this vulnerable group graduate on time and successfully pursue postsecondary education, training, and/or full-time work. 

The nine winning researchers and their projects include:

  • J. Cameron Anglum, Saint Louis University. Examining the confluence of pandemic-era student and teacher mobility and their relationship to high school student outcomes in St. Louis.
  • Laura Booker, Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University. Can remote instruction equalize access to Advanced Placement? An analysis of Tennessee’s ‘AP Access for All’ initiative.
  • Ishara Casellas Connors, Texas A&M University, Covid and the community college: Evidence from Texas.
  • Kelley Durkin, Vanderbilt University. Exploring solutions for long-term Covid effects on adolescents from low-resourced families.
  • Kathryn Hill, Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Disparities in the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on high school students in NYC: Identifying levers for improving equity in postsecondary educational attainment.
  • Kate Kennedy, RAND Corporation. Moving the needle: School district policy and practice for high school social-emotional well-being.
  • Ji-Eun Lee, Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Math achievement and high school course-taking trajectories before and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • David T. Marshall, Auburn University. Learning from outliers: Understanding post-pandemic success in resiliency schools.
  • Elizabeth Robitaille, California Charter Schools Association. Portrait of the movement 2024: How California’s charter high schools are innovating to increase access to college and careers for historically underserved students.

These projects will study a range of academic and non-academic student outcomes, explore a variety of potential policy solutions, and focus on diverse sites from coast to coast. They will use a range of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods, and they will be produced by a variety of research institutions. All the projects are pursuing ambitious timelines, and their leaders have committed to sharing their findings through at least one public-facing publication, which CRPE will help them produce. We expect to start seeing results around spring of 2024.

The Evidence Project: Continuing research on students, Covid-19

This research is part of CRPE’s larger Evidence Project, an effort launched in 2020 to track schools’ real-time responses to the pandemic. The project collected and reported on districts’ pandemic-related actions between 2019-20 and 2022-23, all of which is publicly available in a searchable database. In year three, the Evidence Project is studying pandemic recovery efforts and highlighting ways to rethink teaching and learning to be more effective and joyous. 

The Evidence Project team will launch future requests for proposals for other needed research in Covid recovery and school reinvention. Keep track of new findings in these areas—which includes studies produced by our team as well as the best news and research from other institutions—by subscribing to the Evidence Project newsletter.

The Evidence Project is led by Robin Lake, executive director of CRPE; Ashley Jochim, a principal researcher working with CRPE; and Morgan Polikoff, a professor at University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.

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