Press Release

For Immediate Release
October 6, 2021

Contact:
Mariel Matze, [email protected]
650-380-1973

 

New Poll: California K-12 Parents Eager for Opportunities to Engage in Pandemic Recovery Efforts at Their Children’s Schools

Parents Rank Approaches Rooted in Equity as Key

Oakland, CA — Nine out of ten California parents say addressing their children’s academic and social-emotional needs with approaches like mental health screenings and individualized learning plans is important in addressing the impact of COVID-19, according to a new statewide poll from The Education Trust–West, in collaboration with The Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at The University of California, Berkeley. The majority of Asian, Black, and Latinx parents also said making teaching and learning relevant and rigorous is vital. The poll finds a strong appetite among parents for pandemic recovery approaches rooted in equity—particularly among Asian, Black, and Latinx parents and those in the Los Angeles Area—and an eagerness to engage in their child’s school district’s plans.

“These findings underscore what we’re known for too long: going back to ‘normal’ isn’t good enough,” said Dr. Christopher J. Nellum, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West. “It isn’t what parents tell us they want, it’s not what research tells us students need, and it’s not what a state that just saw a decisive electoral victory for progressive, forward-thinking decisions should be doing. Instead, schools and districts should be paving a new path forward – one that starts with equitably engaging parents and students in decision-making.”

Key poll findings include:

  • Addressing whole child needs was considered important to addressing the impacts of COVID-19 by 89% of all parents. Approaches might include student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans covering academics and social-emotional well-being.
  • Prioritizing relationships among families and educators was seen as important, especially among Black (90%) and Latinx (94%) parents. This approach could include outreach from schools to every family and restorative discipline practices.
  • Many Black (85%) and Latinx (85%) parents said strengthening staffing and partnerships is not just important, but extremely or very important in addressing the impact of COVID-19. That approach could include hiring tutors or mentors, partnering with community organizations to provide mental healthcare or before- and after-school care, or hiring staff to reengage students who were disconnected from school during distance learning.
  • Making teaching and learning relevant and rigorous also drew strong support from parents; 83% of Black parents, 76% of Latinx parents, and 75% of Asian parents said it was extremely or very important. This could include curricula that acknowledge all students’ experiences and identities, teacher training to support inclusion in the classroom, or including students in curriculum development.
  • Parents based in the Los Angeles area were most likely to mark any equity-focused approaches offered as extremely very important.

“As school districts decide how best to use their additional pandemic-recovery funding, it’s imperative they focus those resources on the students who were most affected by the pandemic and most marginalized before it,” stated Director of P-16 Education Policy Natalie Wheatfall-Lum. “These resources give them the freedom and flexibility to chart a much more equitable course. These poll results point the way.”

When asked how school districts could engage them most effectively in decisions regarding programs and services, parents shared:

  • Holding meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning was the top-ranked engagement method overall and for Asian parents, Latinx parents, and those based in the Central Valley and Los Angeles area.
  • Surveying parents about programs and services the district offers to its students was also popular, ranked as most important by White parents, Black parents, and those based in the Bay Area and San Diego area.
  • Other options were not ranked as most effective by any groups. Those options included phone calls asking for input on programs and services, meetings in which parents could provide input on supports for English learners, and meetings focused on pandemic recovery and learning acceleration.

Schools and districts should be looking to research-backed recommendations for implementing the approaches parents say are most important. Many of those can be found in Reimagine and Rebuild California Schools: Restarting School with Equity at the Center, including:

  • Conduct regular student wellness screenings and provide mental health supports. The pandemic has increased students’ feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Universal screeners can help school staff identify students in need of support; strong partnerships with community-based organizations (CBOs) and county mental health/behavioral health providers can help offer them appropriate providers and care teams.
  • Collect and review data on learning, attendance, engagement, grades, and school conditions and climate; create individualized action plans for every student’s whole child needs. Multiple metrics should serve to guide instructional planning—not to hold students back. Whether in the context of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) frameworks or individualized learning plans (IEPs), plans must help personalize learning to each student and support their social, emotional, language, and academic development.
  • Support student reengagement by hiring up and offering students choice and voice. School closures have left young people socially isolated—many are chronically absent and have even disappeared from school systems altogether. Districts need to staff up or partner with CBOs to find and reengage students and their families. When students return, they should find relevant and rigorous lessons, opportunities to explore their interests and identities, and norms, rules, and activities they have a hand in developing.
  • Focus on priority standards and lessons taught at grade level to accelerate—rather than remediate—learning.
  • Consider high-dosage tutoring and mentoring to reengage students and accelerate their learning. Tutoring is an evidence-based strategy for supporting academic skills and should be connected to classroom learning. High-quality mentoring has been proven to support students building trusting relationships with adults.
  • Offer expanded learning opportunities. Partnerships with child-, youth-, and family-serving CMOs can help address students’ academic, language, social, emotional, and physical needs during out-of-school time. Learning opportunities should be fun, engaging, focused on real-world connections, and complementary to classroom instruction.
  • Advance racial equity in curriculum and instruction. Students of all racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds should feel safe, acknowledged, and respected by academic content and instructional approaches.

About The Education Trust–West:

The Education Trust–West works for educational justice and the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-K through college, in the state of California. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

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About this poll

The poll findings above are based on a Berkeley IGS Poll completed by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley. The poll was administered online in English and Spanish from July 18-24, 2021, to 5,795 California registered voters. The findings based on the overall sample of registered voters are subject to a sampling error of approximately +/-2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

A subset of poll respondents within the overall sample who are parents of school-aged children (approximately 1,100 respondents) are the basis for the following analysis. Due to the small sample size, it was not feasible to disaggregate by parents who identify as Native American or Pacific Islander and race by region estimates were not possible.

Results

The percentages below reflect the percentage of parents that rate each statement as “Extremely Important” or “Very Important.” Percentages including “Extremely important”, “Very Important”, and “Somewhat Important” are in parenthesis.

Please rate how important each of the following actions or programs would be as a way for your child’s school to address the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on your school-age children.

A) Prioritizing relationships among students, families, and educators through things like outreach from schools to every family and restorative discipline practices

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall: 69% (87%)
  • White: 56% (81%)
  • Asian: 70% (91%)
  • Black: 84% (90%)
  • Latinx: 82% (93%)

Region:

  • Central Valley: 69% (87%)
  • Los Angeles: 77% (91%)
  • Bay Area: 62% (85%)

B) Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall: 73% (89%)
  • White: 66% (86%)
  • Asian: 73% (90%)
  • Black: 84% (92%)
  • Latinx: 79% (91%)

Region:

  • Central Valley: 69% (86%)
  • Los Angeles: 82% (88%)
  • Bay Area: 74% (93%)
  • San Diego: 73% (86%)

C) Strengthen staffing and partnerships through hiring tutors or mentors, partnering with community organizations to provide mental healthcare or before and after school care, or hiring staff to reengage students who were disconnected from school during distance learning

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall: 75% (90%)
  • White: 68% (87%)
  • Asian: 68% (93%)
  • Black: 85% (92%)
  • Latinx: 85% (94%)

Region:

  • Central Valley: 74% (90%)
  • Los Angeles: 79% (94%)
  • Bay Area: 73% (93%)
  • San Diego: 74% (83%)

D) Make teaching and learning relevant and rigorous through things like curriculum that acknowledges all students’ experiences and identities, teacher training to support inclusion in the classroom, or including students in curriculum development

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall: 68% (81%)
  • White: 56% (70%)
  • Asian: 75% (88%)
  • Black: 83% (90%)
  • Latinx: 76% (89%)

Region:

  • Central Valley: 60% (76%)
  • Los Angeles: 78% (87%)
  • Bay Area: 70% (82%)
  • San Diego: 67% (79%)

E) Developing a team made up of families and students that represent the district community to inform school and district decisions on how to support students longer term

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall: 73% (92%)
  • White: 65% (89%)
  • Asian: 78% (93%)
  • Black: 73% (90%)
  • Latinx: 81% (95%)

Region:

  • Central Valley: 74% (96%)
  • Los Angeles: 82% (94%)
  • Bay Area: 63% (88%)
  • San Diego: 71% (86%)

 

This second set of questions shows the top-rated answers for each group. This is measured as the one receiving the highest number of “1” ratings (i.e., “most important”) for each group.

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • White:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • Asian:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • Black:
    • Prioritizing relationships among students, families, and educators through things like outreach from schools to every family and restorative discipline practices
  • Latinx:
    • Make teaching and learning relevant and rigorous through things like curriculum that acknowledges all students’ experiences and identities, teacher training to support inclusion in the classroom, or including students in curriculum development

Region:

  • Central Valley:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • Los Angeles:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • Bay Area:
    • Addressing whole child needs through things like student mental health screenings and individualized student learning plans for each student that cover academics and social-emotional wellbeing
  • San Diego:
    • Make teaching and learning relevant and rigorous through things like curriculum that acknowledges all students’ experiences and identities, teacher training to support inclusion in the classroom, or including students in curriculum development

Please rank the following ways that your child’s school district could engage you in decision making regarding the programs and services it offers to students following the pandemic.

Race/ethnicity:

  • Overall:
    • Hold meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning
  • White:
    • Survey parents about the programs and services the district offers to its students
  • Asian:
    • Hold meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning
  • Black:
    • Survey parents about the programs and services the district offers to its students
  • Latinx:
    • Hold meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning

Region:

  • Central Valley:
    • Hold meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning
  • Los Angeles:
    • Hold meetings in which parents can participate in district-level planning
  • Bay Area:
    • Survey parents about the programs and services the district offers to its students
  • San Diego:
    • Survey parents about the programs and services the district offers to its students