Study finds parents often overestimate how well their children are performing in school

LaShanta Mire’s daughter appeared to be thriving in her public school in Fort Worth, Texas, at least on the surface. Despite good grades and seemingly appropriate academic progress for a second grader, her assessments revealed a different reality: She lacked basic reading skills, missed critical content, and wasn’t at grade level.

Like many parents nationwide, Mire received inaccurate information about her children’s academic performance. Recognizing the discrepancy between her perception and reality, she sought support from a parents group to navigate school complexities and access crucial information like test scores. Once equipped with the necessary information, Mire transferred her three older children to new schools last autumn.

Today, they receive more accurate, albeit sometimes disappointing, grades. Mire expressed her relief, stating, “I felt like I was failing my child because the school was failing her.” Her new school, she emphasized, emphasizes earning grades rather than merely issuing them.

Mire’s daughter is part of a generation of students impacted by significant learning losses due to the pandemic. Even four years later, schools struggle to address these setbacks and combat chronic absenteeism, which remains widespread and, in some cases, has worsened.

Schools often fail to communicate these challenges effectively to families, frequently giving a false impression of students’ well-being. Research indicates that parents receive limited, if not inaccurate, information about their children’s academic performance.

Recently released survey results, exclusively shared with USA TODAY, highlight the issue: Nearly half of parents desire improved communication from schools, particularly regarding attendance.

According to a survey conducted by SchoolStatus, one-third of parents feel uninformed about their children’s academic progress and overall success. This disconnect between families and schools underscores the critical need for better communication and collaboration.

Russ Davis, SchoolStatus’s founder, emphasized, “It’s crazy that schools have all this data and parents don’t,” underscoring the importance of transparent communication between schools and families.

Distracted students, stressed teachers:Insight into the post-COVID American school day

Amidst grade inflation, parents call for improved transparency

Survey respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the frequency of school communication and the lack of timely attendance-related messages. These findings accentuate the evident communication gap amidst the prevalence of grade inflation.

Research indicates that chronic absenteeism can significantly impact student learning, and proactive engagement with parents can mitigate absences. While parents receive some updates on academic progress, few receive resources to support learning at home.

Kara Stern, SchoolStatus’s Director of Education, voiced concerns about the eroding connection between schools and families, emphasizing parents’ desire for comprehensive information to support their children effectively.

Further studies highlight differences between students’ report card grades and standardized test results. Grade inflation, a common practice predominantly accentuated during the pandemic era, skews the perception of student performance.

Gallup research, in collaboration with Learning Heroes, revealed that most parents believe their children exceed or meet grade-level expectations, emphasizing the discrepancy between perception and reality.

Contrary to parental beliefs, a substantial number of students fail to meet age-appropriate academic standards. The disparity between perceived and actual performance signals the necessity for accurate information dissemination to address learning gaps.

Facing the reality of their children’s educational challenges, parents, including Mire, yearn for accurate feedback to support their children’s academic growth.

‘Timely information is indispensable’

Thomas Kane, a Harvard scholar focusing on pandemic learning losses, underscores the importance of timely, actionable information for parents to enable swift interventions such as summer school enrollment or tutoring.

Shareeda Jones, a mother of five, echoed Mire’s experience of receiving delayed academic feedback regarding her daughter’s reading level. Jones, determined to bridge the learning gap, faces the arduous task of catching up her child, emphasizing the urgency of early interventions.

Parental involvement stems from the desire to shield their children from educational lapses they endured, highlighting the critical role of timely communication and parental engagement in addressing academic challenges.

Jones’s proactive search for educational support reflects parental determination to secure academic resources for their children. Though faced with setbacks, parental advocacy and involvement remain pivotal in shaping their children’s educational trajectory.

Kane’s research indicates incremental progress in addressing pandemic-induced learning deficits. Despite commendable efforts, sustained support and parent engagement are essential for ongoing recovery.

Understanding the communication breakdown

The disconnect between schools and families is not intentional but often a result of systemic challenges in academic data management. Educators, overloaded with data analysis tasks, struggle to provide timely and accurate information to parents.

Stern emphasized that the issue lies in systemic inefficiencies rather than teacher shortcomings. The SchoolStatus platform, simplifying data dissemination to parents, offers a systemic solution to enhance communication and engagement.

Hanushek stresses the need for parental awareness and action to combat academic setbacks and ensure future economic stability. Addressing the communication gap is vital to prevent long-term implications on students’ academic and professional success.

Resolving academic disparities and ensuring timely interventions fosters a brighter educational future for all students, necessitating collective efforts from educators, parents, and policymakers.

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