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Study shows most parents in Washington are worried their kids are falling behind in school

Almost nine out of 10 Washington parents worry that their children are falling behind in school because of the school closures forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Many parents – more than 75% – also report feeling more stressed than before the pandemic, as they juggle work and household duties along with monitoring their children’s education.

The poll, sponsored by The Education Trust and conducted by Global Strategy Group, interviewed 881 parents online from April 13 to 24.

While many of its findings weren’t surprising to educators or families, the survey revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the level of communication from their school district.

The statewide poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, found that while 81% of parents gave positive ratings to schools for their handling of the coronavirus and the transition to remote learning overall, 96% of parents want regular contact with or access to their child’s teacher.

However, only 60% of parents report that they are receiving regular contact or access with their child’s teacher.

That may also be the case at Spokane Public Schools, where the school board heard that poor communication was a source of concern among more than 2,000 families surveyed in a Thought Exchange poll.

Full results of the Thought Exchange will be revealed later this week, district officials said Tuesday.

In the statewide poll, more than half of parents reported challenges with distance learning, including confusion about assignments and the different online platforms used by teachers in the same grade level.

Other concerns were amplified during a recent virtual town hall held last month by the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.

During the town hall, most viewers praised the hard work and dedication of individual teachers, but were frustrated with a one-size-fits-all approach to online education that one said was “holding back 90% of students for the sake of 10%.”

In other words, lack of internet connectivity and devices was watering down the progress of the other 90% because, for the sake of equity, districts made it a point to designate online lessons as “enrichment” and not subject to grading.

That 10% figure mirrors the Education Trust survey, which revealed that 11% of students lacked internet access, laptops or both.

Coincidentally, feelings of acute stress were higher among families who have children with disabilities and among those earning less than $50,000 annually.

“Our survey reveals that in Washington, this health crisis continues to exacerbate longstanding education equity challenges, including access to technology, academic support, and resources for students of color and students from lower-income communities,” said Ary Amerikaner, vice president for K-12 policy, practice, and research for The Education Trust.

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