Research

Report: Parents Overestimate Children's Academic Achievement, Need Tools To Guide their Education

Most parents want their children to go to college, and most also believe their child is performing at or above grade level, but their beliefs about their children's academic achievement doesn't reflect national assessment data, according to a new report from Learning Heroes.

The report, "Parents 2016: Hearts and Minds of Public School Parents in an Uncertain World," surveyed 1,374 parents of public school children in grades K-8. It found that while most parents have high expectations of their children's academic achievement and deep engagement with their development, they don't have a realistic understanding of how well their children are doing, and they need tools to help them help their children.

Key findings from the survey:

  • 75 percent of parents surveyed said they think a college education is "very important" or "absolutely essential" for their children;
  • 40 percent said they are "not very confident" that their children will be prepared for college;
  • 53 percent said they are worried about their ability to pay for college; and
  • About 90 percent said they think their children perform at or above grade level in reading and math.

Despite the high percentage of parents who said they think their children are doing well in reading and math, the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress found that just over one third of students performed at or above grade level. "This disconnect likely reflects an awareness lag, as states transition to higher learning standards and accompanying state assessments," according to a news release from Learning Heroes.

The parents who participated in the survey indicated that they wanted "an explanation of grade-level expectations for their child and activities to improve math and English skills." In response, Learning Heroes, the National PTA and Univision Communications created a "Readiness Roadmap" in English and Spanish. The roadmap includes grade-by-grade learning goal breakdowns, tools for assessing and promoting social-emotional wellness and resources for preparing for and paying for college.

The study was conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by Learning Heroes, in collaboration with Univision Communications, in partnership with National PTA, National Urban League, NCLR and UNCF, and with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

The online survey was conducted January 6-22, 2016 in both English and Spanish. According to a news release from Learning Heroes, the survey included a "a nationally representative survey of 802 elementary and middle school parents, as well as oversamples among Hispanics (to yield a total of 500 Hispanic parents) and African Americans (to yield a total of 265 African-American parents)." They survey has a margin of error of +3.2 percentage points.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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