Published: April 19, 2023
The pandemic’s impact on K-12 education continues to cause consternation for parents, teachers, and students alike. The latest evidence of COVID’s affect is being called the “Parent Perception Gap.”
Never heard of it? You’re not alone.
The Parent Perception Gap is the difference between how parents think their children are performing in school (based on report cards and parent-teacher conferences) versus how these students perform on state-mandated standardized tests.
According to a national survey conducted by Learning Heroes in March 2023, 90% of the parents of eighth-grade students believe their children are proficient in math and reading (performing at or above grade level).
However, data from The Nation’s Report Card , paints an entirely different picture: Just 29% of eighth graders are proficient in reading and only 26% are proficient in math.
That’s a 61-64% perception gap!
In case you were wondering, the national proficiency scores for fourth-grade students are slightly higher than those of eighth graders (32% are proficient in reading and 35% proficient in math).
The take-home message is that the gap between how parents think their children are performing in school and how children actually perform on standardized tests points to a massive miscommunication between schools and parents, with the students lost in the middle.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, describes this gap on the PBS Newshour on April 6, 2023 by saying:
“It’s not just a perception gap. It’s a reality gap. It breaks my heart because parents are the greatest advocates for their children, and they want them to do well and be successful, and if they don’t know their child needs more help in reading or math or whatever it may be, they don’t know what to do.
“We’re missing a massive opportunity to help parents help their children catch up, close these gaps, and enter high school, and eventually college, ready to be successful.
“So whether children need more time being tutored after school, on weekends, or over the summer, our children have missed so much time over the pandemic, I think we’re in a sprint between April and September to close this gap as fast as we can, so children can enter the next school year ready to be successful.”
– ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
“There are lots of things we can debate in education, but we know high-dosage tutoring — whether it’s physically [in person], virtually, or hybrid — works well. What our children need now is more time. So whether children need more time being tutored after school, on weekends, or over the summer, our children have missed so much time over the pandemic, I think we’re in a sprint between April and August or April and September, the next four to five months, to close this gap as fast as we can, so children can enter the next school year ready to be successful.
“There has to be a massive sense of urgency. This is not something we can wait on or debate…
“Parents aren’t taking advantage of tutoring programs precisely because of this reality gap. They don’t understand that their children are so far behind.
“For me, this is true parental empowerment. We have lots of crazy and destructive debates about what true parental empowerment means in our country. I think what it means is knowing honesty where you child is and advocating for your child to get where they need to go.”
At Prep Academy Tutors of Boulder, our mission is to help students bridge both the learning and perception gaps and provide young people with the tools they need to succeed in school and in life.