Washington, DC, April 29, 2022 -- A new NPR/Ipsos poll among parents of school-aged children finds that most parents report their kids are rebounding from the educational toll of the pandemic, at least from an academic perspective. However, these improvements are not felt equally parents whose child(ren) receive special education services or have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The poll also finds that many parents report their child has experienced mental health issues during the pandemic, and more would welcome mental health counseling for their child now compared to last February.
Finally, in the wake of increased attention and recent laws regarding parental rights in schools, the poll finds more similarities between how schools discuss race and gender identity and parents’ values than differences. Furthermore, around three-quarters of parents agree their child’s school keeps them well-informed on what’s taught in the classroom, including on controversial topics.
Parents are seeing improvements in their child’s academic progress compared to last year. However, many report their child experiencing mental health issues as a result of the pandemic, and more believe their child would benefit from mental health counseling compared to last year.
- More parents indicate their child is ahead of where they should be in math and science, reading and writing, social skills, and mental health compared to February 2021. Only about one in ten indicate their child is behind where they should be in each of these areas.
- Nearly half (47%) of parents say that the pandemic has not disrupted their child’s education (up from 38% in February 2021).
- Fewer now say their child dislikes school more than before COVID compared to last year (71% vs. 61%)In the wake of COVID, 31% of parents report their child has shown symptoms of, or been evaluated for, mental health issues, including anxiety (19%) and depression (12%).
- More parents (73%) indicate their child would benefit from mental health counseling now than in February 2021 (68%).
Parents of students that receive special education services or have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) have not reported the same level of improvement in their child’s educational attainment. The majority report having not received compensatory services.
- Parents of students that receive special education services or have an IEP are significantly more likely to indicate their child is behind where they should be in math and science, reading and writing, social skills, and mental health.
- Unlike parents of students not on an IEP, their outlook has not improved since February 2021 across most of these areas.
- More also say their child has experienced anxiety since the pandemic began than parents of children not on an IEP (29% vs. 18%).
- For parents of kids on an IEP, 67% say their child has not received compensatory services this school year.
The vast majority of parent’s think their child’s school and its teachers have handled the pandemic well.
- More than 8 in ten say their child’s school has handled the pandemic well (82%) and has clearly communicated plans with parents (82%).
- The vast majority (88%) believe their child’s teacher(s) have done the best they could given the circumstances around the pandemic.
- Among the nearly one-third of parents who say their child has fallen behind in school due to the pandemic (32%), blame is roughly evenly distributed between state education officials (25%), local school board (22%), school administrators (20%), and teachers (17%). A plurality (38%) does not blame anyone.
Most parents feel that their child’s school keeps them well-informed about the curriculum. A minority report having too little say over what’s taught or believe schools are teaching about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation in a way that is inconsistent with their views.
- Three-quarters of parents (76%) say their child’s school does a good job keeping them informed about the curriculum, including potentially controversial topics. No differences exist by party affiliation.
- Only 24% of parents believe they have too little say over what is taught and what books are in the library at their kid’s school. A plurality (37%) doesn’t know, while another third (34%) say they have about the right amount of influence.
- Republican parents (32%) are more likely than Democratic (18%) and independent ones (23%) to say they have too little say over what is taught and what books are in the library.
- More parents believe their child’s school is teaching about race and racism, the impact of slavery, and sexuality and gender identity in a way that is consistent with their values than not. However, a sizeable portion – roughly one in three – indicate they don’t know.
- Republican (26%) parents are more likely than Democratic (11%) and independent (17%) ones to say their child’s school is not teaching about sexuality and gender identity in a way that is consistent with their values. This is the only issue in the survey where there is a significant difference in opinion between Republican and Democratic parents.
This NPR/Ipsos Poll was conducted April 7-13, 2022, using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll was based on a nationally-representative probability sample of U.S. parents with at least one child ages 5-18 (n=1,007).
The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.
The survey was conducted in English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region by metropolitan status, household income, and language proficiency. The above design weights for KP respondents were then raked to the following geodemographic distributions of the parent population with at least one child 5 to 18 years old. The needed benchmarks were obtained from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS), except language proficiency, which is not available from the CPS data, were obtained from the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS).
The weighting categories were as follows:
- Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50+)
- Race-Ethnicity (White/Non-Hispanic, Black/Non-Hispanic, Other/Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, 2+ Races/Non-Hispanic)
- Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
- Metropolitan Status (Metro, Non-Metro)
- Education (Less than High School, High School, Some College, Bachelor or higher)
- Household Income (under $25K, $25K-$49,999, $50K-$74,999, $75K-$99,999, $100K-$149,999, $150K and over)
- Language Proficiency (English Proficient Hispanic, Bilingual Hispanic, Spanish Proficient Hispanic, Non-Hispanic)
The margin of sampling error among the total sample is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.3 percentage points for all respondents. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.
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