What is the parent perception gap and why is it more common than you think?
A recent study conducted by Learning Heroes found that 90% of K-12 parents believe their children are performing at grade level, but standardized test scores reveal otherwise. Testing reading, only 29% of eighth-graders were considered proficient, and that dropped to about 26% in math. The findings show a significant gap between parent perception and reality and this is referred to as the parent perception gap. The reasons for this gap are multifaceted, including parents receiving differing reports from schools versus scores from standardized tests. The report highlights the urgent need to close the gap, and former U.S. Secretaries of Education, Arne Duncan and Margaret Spellings, elaborate on the findings while suggesting implementable solutions.
One solution offered to help close the parent perception gap is to use standardized test scores as an indicator of where a child stands in their education. Considered alongside report cards, parents can better understand the areas where their children need help. Instead, report cards tend to differ from the standardized test scores, leading to parents overestimating their children's performance.
Another tested solution suggested by the former secretaries of education is to increase parent engagement. Parents must be made aware of the resources available to them, and schools should communicate with parents to explain their children's results on regular challenges in addition to standardized tests. Parents can then take action to ensure their children get the necessary help to improve their scores.
One question raised is whether the pandemic has contributed to the parent perception gap. The study found that the children's test data was from the end of 2022, and the parent survey was conducted in March 2023. Both secretaries agree that the pandemic has had an impact on the education system. To address this, the government allocated $190 billion in pandemic relief funds, but both secretaries believe that it has not been enough to close the gap.
To address the issue, both secretaries suggest that high-dosage tutoring works well and would go a long way in helping to close the gap. Physical, virtual, or hybrid tutoring after school, on weekends, or during summer school, can provide students with the additional time they need to catch up on missed learning during the pandemic. Duncan suggests that we have a window between April and August or September to close the gap as much as possible, so that children can enter the next school year prepared to be successful.
The parent perception gap is a significant issue, more common than we'd like to think and one that requires attention. Standardized test scores can be used as an indicator of a child's performance, and schools should be clear in their communication with parents to ensure they understand their children's needs. Simply put, parent engagement is essential, and resources like FASTalk ensure families and schools talk in order to support their children. Simple technology backed by government resources can help students recover missed learning and close the gap between parent perception and reality to ensure that students receive the help they need to succeed in their education.