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Dr. Gomez and team awarded COVID-19 rapid research grant

Study addresses educational needs of Spanish speaking, K-12 English language learners and their families

From left: headshots of Dr. Rachel Gomez, Dr. Andrene Castro, Dr. Dwayne Ray Cormier. [View Image] [View Image]From left: Rachel F. Gomez, Ph.D.; Andrene J. Castro, Ph.D.; Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D.

A VCU School of Education team in the iCubed Urban Education and Family Transdisciplinary Core has been awarded a COVID-19 rapid research grant by the university aimed at meeting the educational needs of Spanish speaking, K-12 English language learners and their families in the midst of the pandemic.

Rachel F. Gomez, Ph.D., iCubed visiting faculty scholar in the Department of Teaching and Learning is the principal investigator in the study. She is joined by co-principal investigators Andrene J. Castro, Ph.D., visiting iCubed scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, and Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., visiting iCubed scholar and assistant professor in the Department of Foundations of Education.

The study – titled “Mitigating K-12 English Language Learners Academic and English Language Regression during COVID-19: A Rapid Response Examination of a School-Community Partnership” – will draw from an existing research project with a local iCubed partner, the Richmond Region League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Ms. Vilma Seymour, Richmond Region LULAC president, is a co-principal investigator in the study.

The study will examine the challenges and barriers of providing grassroots, community-based mentoring and educational services to one of Richmond’s most vulnerable populations: Spanish speaking, K-12 English language learners and their families. Gomez said that English language learners make up 14 percent of Richmond Public Schools students. According to a 2018 study, 60 percent of Latinx students dropped out or faced barriers to graduating in RPS, compared to 15 percent of Black students and 11 percent of White students.

“This study has two primary aims that will help ensure that English language learners do not regress academically during the stay-at-home order. First, we need to identify current needs within this population, and second, we need to determine, in partnership with LULAC, how local responses may best support English language learner students and families during this time,” Gomez said.

The $10,000 rapid research grant from the university is being matched by a grant from iCubed.

The COVID-19 rapid research funding opportunity is offered by the VCU Office of Research and Innovation, with support of VCU’s Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. The primary goal of the grants is to advance projects that are ready for rapid development and deployment, that will enhance real time decision making and implementation within the health system and in the local community.

This is the second rapid research grant awarded to the iCubed Urban Education and Family Transdisciplinary Core. Dr. Cormier received news last month that he had been awarded a grant to explore pandemic preparedness and response within PreK-12 public school systems located within the Greater Richmond area during the pandemic. Read the article here.

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