Useful to Parent Centers, parents, and educators in their efforts to work together to better understand the academic achievement of students.
Why do 9 out of 10 parents of children in grades K-8 believe their child is on grade level, despite the fact that teachers report less than a third of their students show up prepared for grade-level work? | This is a question emerging from a recent research report by Learning Heroes, a non-profit that equips and informs parents so they can best advocate for their child’s academic success. Its national report is based on previous and current research conducted among school leaders, teachers, parents, and children and bears directly on the subject of parent and family engagement. Among primary findings are the following:
- Most parents have ambitious educational goals for their children, with 80% saying that it’s absolutely essential or very important for their child to go to college and receive a two-year or four-year degree.
- Parents also feel a strong sense of individual responsibility for their children’s education. In fact, 43% said that they have the greatest responsibility for their child’s success in school, as compared to only 12% who said that their child’s teacher has the greatest responsibility.
- Yet the survey results indicate that one of teachers’ strongest concerns is about the level of academic support that parents provide for their children.
The author of a February 2019 blog post at educationpost.com (Jason Zimba) summarizes the current situation as: “Parents have ambitious goals, and they feel responsible for helping their children attain them, yet it seems that teachers aren’t seeing strong levels of academic support from parents.”
The blog post then asks “why the disconnect?” and briefly discusses possible contributing factors. Zimba then suggests that a good place for parents to start closing the disconnect is to get a “gut check” on how well their child has learned foundational skills needed for success in school. A new digital tool called the Readiness Check can be useful here. The tool includes quick, interactive questions that can help parents see how their child handles important grade-level math and reading content.
The blog concludes that closing the disconnect between what parents believe about their child’s performance and whether their child is actually meeting grade-level expectations will “require concerted action on the part of school leaders, teachers, and parents.”
Read the education post’s blog by Jason Zimba:
Access the research report, Parents 2018: Going Beyond Good Grades:
Download a PDF of the research report:
Access the digital tool, the Readiness Check:
About the Research
This report includes a deep segmentation of parents nationally with children in grades 3-8. It also includes Learning Heroes’ first-ever nationally representative survey of grades 3-8 public school teachers. The report is 28 pages long. Findings are discussed first. Beginning on page 25, the researchers describe the methodology by which the research was conducted (qualitative research, national online survey of parents and teachers, and additional qualitative research with parents and teachers).
Who was involved, and how? In addition to conducting the surveys mentioned above, the researchers conducted 12 focus groups with parents of public school children in grades 3-8 in six states, and more than 70 in-depth interviews with guidance counselors, principals, teachers, and parents and their upper elementary or middle school children to see how parents’, educators’, and children’s views about academic performance converge and diverge.
What emerged? Research about “the disconnect” uncovered three key insights:
Parenting Styles Drive How Parents Engage in Their Child’s Education: Most parents believe they are involved in their child’s education as much as they should be, yet depending upon their parenting style, they have different thresholds for involvement, leaving teachers to navigate a range of approaches from parents.
Report Cards Sit at the Center of the Disconnect: Parents rely heavily on report card grades as their primary source of information and assume good grades mean their child is performing at grade level. Yet two-thirds of teachers say report cards also reflect effort, progress, and participation in class, not just mastery of grade-level content. Teachers have many more data points about student performance than parents do.
The Disconnect Is Solvable: Providing parents with a few already available pieces of information in one place in a clear, decipherable format leads many parents to reconsider their views about their child’s performance.
Updated August 2023