The Pandemic's Impact on Teacher, Parent and Student Attitudes

Interest by teachers in professional development on how to teach online courses more than doubled when the pandemic arrived, by 120 percent. Interest in PD on the use of social media to communicate with parents and students grew by 83 percent. And interest in how to create videos jumped by 74 percent. Also popular: PD on how to facilitate online discussion forums (53 percent) and implement a blended or flipped class (52 percent).

On the student side, while just a quarter of middle graders reported using texting to communicate with teachers before mid-March, when schools began to close, that grew to 62 percent during school closures. Usage of texting to teachers among students in grades 9-12 also grew, from 38 percent to 69 percent.

The Pandemic's Impact on Teacher, Parent and Student Attitudes

The percentage increase in teachers who want professional development as a result of remote instruction. Source: Project Tomorrow's "Speak Up 2020 Congressional Briefing: Release of the National Research Findings"

These results came from a cut of data collected and analyzed by Project Tomorrow, an education nonprofit that runs the on-going Speak Up Research Project. The latest data compared responses from 137,000 K-12 stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers and site and district leaders collected before school closures (September 2019 to Mar. 16, 2020) and during (between Mar. 16 2020 and Jun. 30, 2020).

Schools that participate in the free national survey project receive summary reports with local, state and national results for their own benchmarking.

Among the other findings were these:

  • Parents expressed a greater appreciation for technology in education and its use by teachers. Three-quarters reported that the effective use of tech in school was "very important" for their child's future success, compared to 55 percent before the school closures. And while a third of parents (32 percent) agreed that tech was used effectively by their children's teachers to support learning before the school closures, that rose to 51 percent during the closures.

  • Parents were also more likely to discover that teaching their children good digital citizenship skills was hard; their comfort level in doing so dropped by 14 percent. Twenty-one percent fewer parents had confidence in their own abilities to model good digital citizenship skills for their kids.

  • Usage of school-provided Chromebooks by students shot up when schools closed in the spring. For students in grades 3-5, the increase was 32 percentage points (from 50 percent to 82 percent); for students in grades 6-8, usage went from 56 percent to 80 percent; and for high schoolers usage increased from 35 percent to 65 percent.

  • Reliance on digital content saw a rise as well during school closures. The biggest jump was in the use of online animated movies or simulations, whose usage grew weekly by 41 percent. Online curriculum saw a 23 percent gain.

"By examining Speak Up results from before and after school closures, we are able to see in almost real time how the unexpected shift has altered not only teachers' expectations for using technology within learning, but also parents' perceptions on the value of digital learning and the impact of this experience on students' aspirations for enhanced learning environments," said Julie Evans, researcher and CEO of Project Tomorrow, in a statement.

A recorded presentation on the results that included commentary by students, as well as access to slides and a continuing education certificate is available through, with free registration. In the archive list, look for "Speak Up 2020 Congressional Briefing: Release of the National Research Findings."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.