While Parents Say Kids Are Doing OK in School, Teachers Not So Convinced
- By Dian Schaffhauser
As parents and
schools do battle over masking
practices, in-class discussions on racial
inequity and the appropriate time and place for remote
schooling, a new report suggested that parent
involvement in education is definitely here to stay. In a fall 2021
survey, 93% parents said they would be "as or more involved in
their children's education." That included getting a better
understanding of what was expected of their child (86%) and where
their child was academically (85%). For their parts, teachers and
principals reported that they would spend the same or more energy
addressing family engagement this year, 86% and 84%, respectively.
The survey, "Parents
2021: Going Beyond the Headlines," was run by
Heroes, an education nonprofit focused
on helping parents support their child's success in school. This is
the sixth year in which the survey has been done. Conducted by Edge
for Learning Heroes, the survey ran a nationwide sampling in
September 2021 of 1,481 parents and guardians with children in grades
K-12 in public school. There were parallel surveys given to 305
teachers and 304 principals over the same period.
suggested that parents have an inflated sense of just how well their
students are doing in school compared to what educators think. Four
in five respondents were "extremely or very confident" that
their kids would be "well prepared" for college after high
school. Among White parents, that confidence had grown from 62% in
2019 to 80% by September 2021; for Black parents it had grown from
72% to 80%; and for Hispanic parents it rose from 73% to 77%. Yet
just half of teachers said most or all students at their schools
would be ready for college-level work once they graduated.
In a similar gap,
while 87% of parents said they were confident they had a "clear
understanding" of how well their students were doing
academically, only 69% of teachers said they thought "most or
all" of their students' parents had a clear understanding. Most
parents pegged their children at or above grade level, 92% for math
and 92% for reading; yet 44% of teachers reported that they expected
most students to show up prepared for grade-level work.
One area where there
was overall consensus among parents and teachers was in what they
considered most important when thinking about the school year. The
top three choices -- while ranked differently -- included the same
security of students and staff (mentioned by 20% of parents and 18%
progress (17% and 16%); and
students' mental health and emotional well-being (11% and 12%).
In an examination of
who was most responsible for a child's success in school, parents
primarily put it on their students (55%) and themselves (33%),
whereas teachers tended to take on the bulk of responsibility (43%)
with another large share pinned on the principal (37%). Principals
targeted the teacher primarily (43%), followed by themselves (37%).
According to the
parents, their number one priority for school communications should
be gaining a "clear picture" of how their child is doing
academically, cited by 55% of respondents. Second, they wanted their
schools to be "direct and truthful" about how their
children were performing (54%). And third, they wanted teachers and
staff to follow through on requests and questions (48%). Teachers
said their main priority in communications was to build trust with
the families of their students (49%) and to be "authentic"
when communicating with families (49%). Only then did teachers
prioritize making sure families had a clear view of how their
children were doing in class (46%).
More than two-thirds
of parents (68%) said they worried most about having politicians
rather than educators making decisions about what's learned in the
classroom. (Forty percent said they worried "a lot" about
that.) That was a higher percentage than the share of parents
concerned about their children's happiness and emotional well-being
(65%), somebody in the family getting COVID-19 (60%), having their
students experience stress or anxiety (63%), being able to finance
college (56%), having their kids be bullied (54%) or being able to
pay bills (50%).
were most concerned about students getting COVID (38%), principals
said they worried most about personally contracting COVID at school
and educators reporting deeper involvement with one another, shared
priorities and common goals, the time is now to break down barriers
that lead to inequities and support districts as they ground their
family engagement strategies in what parents, teachers and principals
prioritize — trust and meaningful two-way communication between
schools and families," said Bibb Hubbard, founder and president
of Learning Heroes in a statement.
results are available in the survey, openly available on
the Learning Heroes website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.