Schools have significant impacts on large sectors of the population in disaster situations. During and immediately after any kind of disaster affecting the greater public, schools provide communities with access to shelter, food, medical resources, and psychological resources. However, despite the important role that schools play, very little research has been conducted to understand how and why disaster-affected schools differ in their post-disaster recovery patterns. This work will identify factors that may hinder or support school academic recovery after disasters. Findings from this research will position us to advise stakeholders (e.g., school administrators, teachers, policy makers) on the potential trajectory of schools, particularly in areas vulnerable to extreme events. Pre-disaster preparedness and response planning initiatives can in turn be customized to minimize the effects of natural disasters on school academic functioning. The project's interdisciplinary team will disseminate study findings through multiple outlets (e.g., webinars targeted to superintendents in the study area, lectures to pre-service teachers, scholarly papers and presentations). To increase the educational impact of this work, the research team will actively involve and mentor undergraduate and graduate students in research and integrate study findings into multiple courses.
This project has two specific aims: (1) to identify patterns of school recovery after Hurricane Ike and (2) to examine potential risk factors associated with school recovery patterns. To address Aim 1, we will examine patterns of academic recovery among approximately 400 Texas public schools in the path of Hurricane Ike (2008) by examining the pre-/post-Ike periods from 2003-2011. Growth mixture modeling techniques will be used to examine a rich dataset of public school performance outcomes in Texas in order to obtain empirical insights into the landscape of school recovery after disasters. To address Aim 2, we will examine potential risk factors and their associations with school recovery patterns, utilizing a vulnerability perspective. Specifically, we will test the relationship between school institutional infrastructure and socioeconomic and demographic factors and school recovery patterns. We will then examine the role of physical vulnerability in school recovery by mapping spatial clusters of school recovery patterns in relation to location (e.g., school district and county location, coastal location, evacuation zone, urbanized/non-urbanized area) and exposure (e.g., storm surge and flood-zone areas). The methodological approach developed here may be generalized for use after other disasters in other locations. The outcomes of the research are expected to transform future studies of disaster impacts on school functioning and improve cross-study and cross-model examinations of disaster impacts.