Understanding the Disconnect Between Parental Perception and Academic Reality in School Performance

by Gabriel Martinez
Parental Perception Academic Performance

A recent Gallup and Learning Heroes poll reveals a stark contrast between parental perceptions and the actual academic performance of students. The survey found that the majority of parents, nearly nine in ten, believe their children are performing at grade level. However, standardized test results present a different reality, indicating that a significantly lower number of students are meeting expected standards.

The reliance on report cards as the primary measure of a student’s progress may be contributing to this discrepancy. Researchers suggest that report cards alone may not provide a comprehensive view of a child’s academic abilities. This gap in understanding can lead parents to overlook the need for additional support or intervention for their children.

Bibb Hubbard, the founder and president of Learning Heroes, emphasizes the overreliance on grades as an indicator of grade-level proficiency. Hubbard notes that a good grade does not necessarily equate to mastery of grade-level material, a fact often not communicated to parents.

In the Gallup survey, a vast majority of parents expressed confidence in their child’s abilities, with 88% believing their child is on track in reading and 89% in math. Contrasting this, a federal survey reported that half of all U.S. students began the last school year below grade level in at least one subject.

Further research in Washington state revealed an inflation of grades during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was attributed to more lenient grading policies implemented by many districts to accommodate the challenges students faced during the pandemic. Dan Goldhaber, a co-author of the Washington state report and director of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, suggests that such leniency might be concealing underlying learning gaps that are evident in standardized tests but not reflected in grades.

Despite the allocation of federal pandemic relief funds for academic recovery programs like intensive tutoring and summer academic programs, participation in these initiatives is lower than expected. Goldhaber notes that only a fraction of eligible students are taking advantage of these opportunities.

The findings of the Gallup poll highlight a crucial trend: many families may be unaware of the need to act on their child’s academic performance. While half of the parents surveyed had discussed their child’s academic progress with a teacher, the number increases significantly among those aware of their child’s struggles in math.

Sarah Carpenter, director of The Memphis Lift, points out that report cards often fail to provide detailed information, such as a child’s reading level, leading to confusion among parents. Similarly, Trenace Dorsey-Hollins, a parent and founder of Parent Shield Fort Worth, stresses the importance of parental knowledge and advocacy in the school system.

In conclusion, this disconnect underscores the need for better communication and more informative assessments in education, enabling parents to make informed decisions and adequately support their children’s academic needs.

Note: The Big Big News education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, with the AP maintaining full responsibility for all content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Parental Perception Academic Performance

How does parental perception of academic performance differ from actual performance?

Recent surveys, including one by Gallup and Learning Heroes, indicate a significant disparity between parental perceptions and actual academic performance. Most parents believe their children are on track academically, but standardized test results and school reports suggest otherwise, showing many students are not meeting grade-level expectations.

Why are report cards not sufficient for assessing a student’s academic progress?

Report cards may not provide a complete picture of a student’s academic abilities. They often focus on grades, which do not necessarily indicate mastery of grade-level material. This can lead to a misunderstanding of a student’s true academic standing and needs.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on academic grading?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many school districts adopted more lenient grading policies to accommodate the challenges faced by students. This has potentially led to grade inflation, masking the true extent of learning gaps that are apparent in standardized tests.

Why are parents not fully aware of their child’s academic struggles?

Parents may not be fully aware of their child’s academic struggles due to a reliance on report cards, which might not accurately reflect a student’s proficiency in key subjects. Additionally, a lack of detailed information about specific skills, like reading levels, contributes to this gap in understanding.

What role does parental involvement play in addressing academic performance issues?

Parental involvement is crucial in addressing academic performance issues. When parents are informed and engaged, they are more likely to advocate for their child’s educational needs and seek out additional support, such as tutoring or specialized programs, to help their child catch up academically.

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LearningLover November 15, 2023 - 3:05 pm

we must support parents in understanding their child’s academic needs. Let’s bridge the gap!

EdInsider November 15, 2023 - 7:58 pm

COVID messed up grading. report cards not telling the full story. parents need the truth!

EduAdvocate November 15, 2023 - 10:04 pm

schools need better communication with parents! report cards just letters, need more info on child’s skills.

Reader123 November 15, 2023 - 11:32 pm

report cards not enough? parents think grades great but tests say no! covid made grades wonky too.

ParentPower November 16, 2023 - 9:34 am

parents, get involved! knowing helps kids. report cards hide real issues. advocacy is key!


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