Improving Public Education: Parents As Change Agents | A Research Synthesis
Learning Heroes believes that parents and guardians are key to improving schools for all students, especially those who have traditionally been underserved. The public education system currently does not have a systematic way to engage parents and guardians in understanding and acting upon information about their children’s academic and developmental progress. Research on large-scale systems change suggests that creating new sources of information that contribute to a system’s goals is one of the most powerful levers to shift a system’s purpose and values. This research synthesis from Learning Heroes and Populace highlights how parent actions can catalyze the system to be more responsive in meeting the needs of their own children and, ultimately, all students in a way that aligns with their definition of success.
The Case for an Accurate Picture: Parent Mindsets on Education
Since 2016, we’ve worked to give parents an accurate picture of their children’s development and achievement, yet we see through the trends in our data that gains have been modest and place-based. To truly serve all students, and underserved students in particular, it is time to strengthen and create systemic communications that knit families and schools together, centered around delivering an accurate and holistic view of student progress.
We believe the trends in this report point to an urgency for collective action to help ensure parents have access to what they deserve – an opportunity to most effectively support their children’s education.
For four years in a row, Learning Heroes data has revealed a disconnect between parent perceptions of their child’s achievement and actual student performance. This disconnect has a significant impact on how parents engage with teachers and schools. Parents 2019 goes even further, for the first time, delving into perceptions and attitudes of parents of high school students. As the stakes get higher, how do parents of older children perceive their child’s achievement, and how does this perception shape their attitudes and involvement in their children’s education? Parents 2019 offers important insights from high school teachers and parents of K-12 children that can help shape and fuel our collective work. Contact us for more information about the research.
Building on previous Learning Heroes research, we delved into why nine in ten K-8 parents believe their child is on grade level, despite the fact that teachers report less than a third of their students show up prepared for grade level work. Parents deserve to know if their child is performing at grade level, so they can best advocate for their child's success in school. This report includes a deep segmentation of parents nationally with children in grades 3-8 to be more responsive to various parenting styles. It also includes our first-ever nationally representative survey of grades 3-8 public school teachers. We found that providing parents a little information about their child's and school's achievement goes a long way in giving parents a more accurate picture of their child's progress. Contact us for more information about the research and/or the Puzzle to Plan Family Worksheet pilot tool.
Developing Life Skills in Children: A Road Map for Communicating with Parents
Research shows that children’s social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development are deeply intertwined, like the strands of a rope, and come together to create successful adults. To help educators and community leaders understand how parents feel and talk about the development of these skills in their children, and the role they see for schools and after-school settings, Learning Heroes conducted a series of 10 focus groups and a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 parents who have children in K-8 public schools and used parents’ insights to create resources that educators can use to explore this topic further. The Developing Life Skills in Children: Roadmap for Communicating with Parents focuses on the parents of elementary and middle school students because this is when parents are first likely to be introduced to these concepts by schools. Developing Life Skills has been published in the Journal for Higher Education Theory and Practice, a publication of North American Business Press.
How Learning Happens Communications Playbook
Building on the insights learned through the Developing Life Skills in Children study, Learning Heroes partnered with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development to provide resources for the How Learning Happens Communications Playbook. The goal of these communication tools including videos, social media assets and workshop guides, is to help motivate families, caregivers, and educators to support and create the conditions in which all students learn best. How Learning Happens offers a meta-frame that can be used by all individuals and organizations working to integrate the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning in our schools and communities. It aims to align families and educators in a way of viewing and understanding the integrated nature of how learning happens and to motivate them to pull these practices into their own communities, schools, and classrooms. All of the resources here including the Developing Life Skills: Parent Perspectives Workshop Facilitator’s Guide are meant to support your work in the context of your community. Consider these tools yours to adapt and modify as needed.
Parents 2017: Unleashing Their Power & Potential
When it comes to raising children, we hear two stories: confidence in academics, yet an increasing anxiety about children’s social and emotional well-being. In fact, nine in ten parents believe their child is at/above grade level in both reading and math. But, when we look at both state level and national student performance data, only about 1/3 are performing at grade level. This report reveals more about why this perception gap exists, the high aspirations parents hold for their children, their deep dedication and areas where parents are seeking support.
Parents 2016: Hearts & Minds of Parents in an Uncertain World
This report offers insights into the hearts and minds of America’s parents. There are deep areas of concern, including fears surrounding what they feel they cannot control, such as peer pressure, bullying, physical safety, and the Internet/social media. But much of what we heard is reassuring, especially the depth of parents’ engagement in their child’s education and emotional well-being. Most parents express high expectations for their child, take primary responsibility for their child’s success in school, and communicate frequently with their child’s teacher.