Researchers Partner with VDOE to Study Pandemic Impact on Virginia Schools

Audrey Breen

Three EdPolicyWorks researchers will partner with the Virginia Department of Education to study the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Virginia’s public schools.

Three researchers at the University of Virginia’s EdPolicyWorks research center will partner with the Virginia Department of Education on a three-year, nearly $1 million grant to study the impact of the pandemic on Virginia’s public schools. EdPolicyWorks is a collaboration between the School of Education and Human Development and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Luke C. Miller, associate research professor at the School of Education and Human Development, will lead the UVA portion of the grant, which was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences.

“Every day for a year now, we have heard very personal accounts from students, teachers and families of how they have been impacted by the pandemic and the consequential disruptions to schooling,” Miller said. “There is a tremendous need for rigorous evidence to help them recover and come back stronger. Our ongoing collaboration with VDOE will be able to address that need thanks to the support of this grant.”

Miller will be joined by Beth Schueler, assistant professor of education and public policy, and Veronica Katz, research assistant professor. They will team up with researchers from VDOE to illuminate the pandemic’s impacts on students and teachers by examining pre- and post-pandemic trends through the 2022-2023 school year. The researchers will specifically review a number of elements such as absenteeism and grade-level retention, as well as teacher retention and the identification of students with disabilities and English learners..

“The research funded through this grant will be critical as our schools move beyond the immediate concerns of reopening and shift their focus to addressing the short-term and long-term impacts of the pandemic and school closures on student outcomes and school operations,” said James Lane, Virginia superintendent of public instruction. “Our goal is to provide a series of evidence-based policy briefs that will provide practical and actionable information and help shape policies that prioritize and promote equity during what will be a multiyear recovery process.”

This project is one of several that are part of the Virginia Policy Partnership Collaboration (VPPC). The VPPC connects University of Virginia faculty and students with education policy makers to address pressing education problems in the Commonwealth through careful research.

Four UVA students are working with the researchers to collect and code all Virginia school divisions’ reopening and recovery plans. With the work that these students are doing, the team will evaluate the effectiveness of these plans in addressing the impact of the pandemic on students and teachers.

The students are part of the VPPC Education Policy Associates program, a new initiative for students who want training in education policy and opportunities to work on applied research projects.

Ultimately, the team aims to produce a number of items as a result of this study including, among others, research briefs on short-term patterns in student education outcomes and teacher outcomes as a result of the pandemic, as well as the effects of elementary, middle and high school response and reopening plans.