Parents Mostly Optimistic About This School Year, Survey Shows

More parents think their child will be ahead of grade level by the end of the school year than were ahead before the pandemic, according to a new survey from the MassINC Polling Group

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After the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, parents are mostly optimistic about their students' learning and have high expectations, according to a new survey of Massachusetts parents.

More parents think their child will be ahead of grade level by the end of the school year than were ahead before the pandemic, according to the survey by the MassINC Polling Group, in collaboration with The Education Trust and sponsored by the Barr Foundation. And a majority of parents who said their child is now behind grade level said they expect them to catch up by the end of the year.

The results are set to be released Wednesday, but were shared early with NBC10 Boston, NECN and Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra. The education survey is the fifth wave of a project tracking the experiences of more than 1,500 K-12 parents; it started in May of 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey results come at a time when coronavirus cases in Massachusetts schools are starting to rise once again but also as children age 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nearly three-quarters of parents surveyed said the return to school has had a positive impact on their child. They primarily credited socialization along with a supportive learning environment for this positive impact.

By contrast, only 9% of parents said the return to school has had a negative impact on their child. Those who did cite negative impacts said it was mostly due to COVID concerns or kids finding the adjustment overwhelming or stressful.

The survey also showed there is a disconnect between parents' expectations and the realities they report in terms of information and resources.

Few parents said they have received diagnostic assessments, meaning they are mostly relying on classroom grades and teacher comments to judge their child's progress. Many parents said a range of academic resources are either unavailable at their child's school or they are unsure.

Parents also said they are largely unaware of their school district's plans on how to spend expected recovery funding. If it were up to them, parents said they would focus recovery funding on tutoring and extra academic support, mental health awareness and expanded technical and vocational programs.

Most parents surveyed said they have vaccinated their eligible children or plan to do so now that children age 5 to 11 are eligible. But one-third of parents with younger children who just became eligible for the vaccine said they will not get their child vaccinated or haven't decided yet.

Overall, parents said they are satisfied with the expectations and protocols surrounding COVID safety at their schools.

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