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HEARTS AND MINDS OF PARENTS: Survey Reveals Disconnect Between Parents’ Perceptions of Child’s Performance Versus Achievement Data

A new national survey reveals large disconnects between how well parents believe their children perform academically and their actual performance. It also finds that parental aspirations for their child to go to college are much higher than data on the percentage of children who get to and through college. Results from the survey, which was commissioned by Learning Heroes, a nonprofit that helps parents support their child’s academic success, are contained in Parents 2016: Hearts & Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World.

According to the survey, 90 percent of all parents believe their child is achieving at or above grade level in math and reading. However, only 40 percent of fourth-grade students actually scored at or above proficient in math and only 36 percent did so in reading. Similar disconnects exist when the data is broken down by race, as shown in the image to the right taken from the report.

Disconnect between parents' perceptions of their children's performance and student performance data

Regarding postsecondary education, 75 percent of parents say that it is “absolutely essential” or “very important” that their children go to college and receive a degree. The percentage of high school graduates who actually enroll in college the October after graduating, however, is only 66 percent. And only 54 percent of students who enter college ultimately graduate within six years.

When broken out by race, the survey results show that fewer white parents (67 percent) believe college is absolutely essential or very important for their children, compared to 90 percent of Hispanic parents and 83 percent of African American parents. The percentage of students who actually graduated from college within six years is only 54 percent for white students, 42 percent of Hispanic students, and 37 percent of African American students.

“Although most parents say their child is meeting the expectations and goals for his/her grade level, and believe it is important for their child to go to college, the survey also detected an underlying lack of confidence (40 percent of parents) that their child will be well-prepared when the time comes,” the report notes.

When asked who bears the greatest responsibility for their child’s education success, 43 percent of parents said that responsibility lies with them while 37 percent said the child. Only 16 percent said the same thing about the teacher.

The survey also explores parents’ top concerns, which include how to pay for college, internet safety and privacy, as well as students’ physical safety and social and emotional well-being, as shown in the graphic below.

Proportions saying they worry a lot or some about each in raising their child

To better inform parents about their child’s education and prepare them to support their child’s academic success, Learning Heroes created a “Readiness Roadmap” that provides parents with resources and tools, including academic expectations by grade; tips on paying for college; information on emotional health and happiness; conversation guides to make the most of parent-teacher conferences as well as conversations with their child; tools to help parents understand where their child might need additional support; and personalized resources to meet their child’s individual needs.

Parents 2016: Hearts & Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World is available at http://bealearninghero.org/downloads/LearningHeroes-ExecSummary-english.pdf.

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