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Education

Remote Learning Survey: 9 Out Of 10 Texas Parents Worry Their Children Are Now Behind Academically

A science classroom at YWLA Primary during a meet-the-teacher event Aug. 9, 2019.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio
A science classroom at YWLA Primary during a meet-the-teacher event Aug. 9, 2019.

The vast majority of Texas public school parents say their children’s schools did an excellent job transitioning to remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re still worried their children are falling behind academically.

In an online poll conducted in April, 87% of the 1,200 parents surveyed said they were concerned their children would fall behind because their schools were closed. The survey released Monday by the nonprofit advocacy group Education Trust also found that 87% of parents believed their schools handled the coronavirus well.

Ivy Morgan managed the survey for Education Trust in partnership with the polling firm Global Strategy Group. She said the seeming contradiction in parents’ responses reflects the mammoth task schools faced to come up with a way to keep education going remotely with very little notice.  

“We are all sort of flying by the seat of our pants right now,” Morgan said. “(Parents) recognize that this is a very tough thing to do. But when we ask questions more specifically about the sort of concerns that parents have and the resources that they need, we realize that the sort of general perception of the experience doesn't necessarily match the actual experience that parents are living right now.”

For instance, around 85% of parents said it would be helpful if schools provided instructional materials for English Language Learners and students with disabilities, but only around one out of three parents said their children’s schools were providing those materials.

English Learners and students with disabilities were at greater risk of lower academic performance before the coronavirus outbreak. Parents of other vulnerable groups, including students with disabilities, low-income students and parents of color without college degrees were also more likely to say they were especially concerned that their children were falling behind academically.

About 74% of families that make less than $24,000 a year said they were “very concerned,” compared to 62% of all parents surveyed; 71% of Black high school parents said they were very concerned about ensuring that their children were on track to go to college. Care was made to ensure the survey was representative of Texas’s overall public school parent population.

“This pandemic has made very clear that (racial and economic) inequities exist and they sort of persist even in the ways in which schools are supporting parents and students now,” said Morgan. “COVID(-19) has been a terrible tragedy across the country across the world, but in particular communities of color, low-income communities are being disproportionately impacted.”

Morgan said she hopes that school leaders and policymakers use the survey to inform their plans for the future. 

She also said these impacts go beyond the pandemic.

"There are inequities in the education system. It doesn't stop there," she said, referencing the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. "Everything — they're all intertwined.

“We really do need to make sure that we’re listening to the parents in the communities that we’re serving.” 

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

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