Press Release

New Poll Reveals Parents’ Perspectives on Learning During COVID-19 Pandemic

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (March 25, 2021)—A national poll released today reveals parents’ perspectives on learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and their greatest concerns for their children. The poll—A Year Into the Pandemic: Parents’ Perspectives on Academics, Assessments and Education—surveyed parents and guardians with children in grades K-12 in public schools. It was conducted by Edge Research and commissioned by National PTA and Learning Heroes. The findings build on results released in February on parents’ views on end-of-year state assessments during the pandemic.

The poll results highlight that parents’ confidence in their children’s academic achievement is declining. While two-thirds (67%) indicate they are more involved in their child’s education than ever before, only 52% believe their child will be well prepared for the next grade and 63% believe their child is behind where they would be in a normal school year. There is also a marked decline from previous years in parents reporting their child is above grade level. And while academic achievement is high on the list of parent concerns, perhaps unsurprisingly, children missing out on social interactions tops the list.

“The poll demonstrates how essential it is for parents to have the best, most accurate information on their children’s achievement. Otherwise, they’re not able to help support their children’s learning at home or partner effectively with their children’s teachers to support their success,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “The poll also underscored that social and emotional well-being is among the most pressing issues to address as a result of the pandemic. Parents, teachers and school leaders must work together to address learning gaps and ensure every child has the supports they need to reach their full potential.”

Key findings of the poll show:

  • Children’s loss of social interactions tops the list of parent worries, followed by someone in the family getting COVID-19 and children’s academic progress. More than 7 in 10 parents (72%) indicated they worried “a lot” or “some” about their child missing out on important social interactions at school or with friends, more than any other issue/topic. Another top-tier worry for parents (69%) was someone in their family getting COVID-19. Meanwhile, 61% of parents reported being worried their child is not making as much academic progress as they would in a typical year.
  • Parents question their children’s academic achievement and preparedness for the next grade and are more concerned about them falling behind. Only 52% of parents believe their children will be well prepared for the next grade. The data also revealed a marked decline from previous Learning Heroes research in the percentage of parents who believe their child is above grade level: a 12-point drop in math and a 6-point drop in reading. Additionally, 63% of parents believe their child is behind where they would be in a normal school year.
  • Increased engagement in their children’s learning does not equate to increased confidence in their understanding of how well their children are doing academically. While 67% of parents indicated they are more involved in their child’s education than ever before, confidence that parents have a clear understanding of their child’s achievement is at an all-time low, with 43% of parents reporting feeling less confident than in previous years that they understand how well their child is achieving academically.
  • Parents offer muted levels of support for in-person summer learning. 60% of parents reported being extremely or very likely to use free resources at home to help their child continue or review learning over the summer. 55% of parents reported being likely to use free recreational activities for their child to spend time with peers and have fun. 51% of parents reported being likely to use in-person review sessions in math and reading provided by school to help in areas where their child needs more support.

“For the past six years, 9 in 10 parents—regardless of race, income or education level—have reported that their child is at or above grade level in reading and math. Today, with a front row seat into their child’s education, we are seeing some concern among parents that their child may not be prepared for grade level work,” said Bibb Hubbard, Founder and President of Learning Heroes. “This is a prime opportunity for teachers and parents to engage in open, honest, two-way conversations to plan for how to best meet our children’s needs this summer, setting them up for success next fall.” 

“Strong partnerships between families, teachers and administrators are more important than ever as we navigate the ongoing pandemic and address its impacts,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “It is important that parents and educators keep in touch often and work together to support their child academically, socially and emotionally. It is also vital for parents to have a seat at the table whenever decisions are made that impact their child.” 

About the Poll

The online poll was conducted by Edge Research among a nationwide sample of 1,550 parents and guardians with children in grades K-12 in public school. The survey, fielded in English and Spanish, included oversamples of Hispanic parents representing a mix of acculturation levels and Black parents.  Data were weighted to be representative of public-school parents in the U.S.

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.

About Learning Heroes

Learning Heroes supports parents and guardians as their child’s most effective education advocate. Using key insights from six years of qualitative and quantitative parent research, we work with state education agencies (SEAs), local education agencies (LEAs), education nonprofits, parent organizations, civil rights groups, faith based organizations, businesses, and many others, to reach and engage parents with free, research based tools, resources and communications in English and Spanish. Through these organizations, in 2020, Learning Heroes reached more than 22 million parents, and engaged more than 3 million with content. Learning Heroes is a project of the New Venture Fund. For more information, visit BeALearningHero.org.  

Media Contacts
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA
hmay@PTA.org, (614) 570-3922

David Park, Learning Heroes
dpark@LearningHeroes.org, (202)-375-3133


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