Poll Shows DPS Parent Concerns About Learning

Access to High-Quality Schools, Parent & Family Engagement | 01/27/2021

Danielle DeSantis
State Organizing Director

A coalition of parent groups is urging the Denver Board of Education to develop solutions to mitigate learning loss after studies found students are learning less online, parents worry kids have fallen behind academically, and nearly 1-in-6 of Denver parents say they have moved their child out of Denver Public Schools (DPS).

The groups include Transform Education Now (TEN), African Leadership Group, Stand for Children and FaithBridge. “Today, as we reflect on the last year, we know that we need decisive leadership and action to support our students as they make up for a lost year of learning,” said high school parent John Johnson.

Keating Research conducted the scientific poll via an online survey to help elevate and understand what these groups have been hearing from parents.  The survey was conducted between January 4-10 among 647 parents of a K-12th grade school age child in the city of Denver.  The survey sample is meant to accurately represent the population of Denver’s K-12th grade school parents by gender, age, income and ethnicity.

Key findings of the Keating poll show:

  •  A majority of parents are satisfied with the learning options that DPS is offering
  • Two-thirds of parents feel that their student is learning less online. The feeling that children are learning less is prevalent among all parents across Denver, encompassing all school board districts
  • Nearly 1-in-6 (17%) of Denver parents say they have moved their child out of DPS remote learning either through homeschooling, transferring to a private school, or enrolling in another district
  • The average child is engaged in live, real time instruction with a teacher for four hours or less per day
  • Parents are most likely to feel that their child misses or has a hard time understanding lessons or that their child doesn’t interact or engage online
  • Regular live access to teachers, lessons, and office hours are the most helpful for families navigating online learning during the pandemic

“These numbers do not surprise me. Learning for my son from high school has been very difficult because there are many distractions at home that would not normally affect him when he is in person. Schools made efforts to try to contribute resources, but it was not an ideal environment for anyone.”  said high school parent Liliana Lazos, also mom to a DPS graduate.

“We have been telling the stories of individual families over the last 9 months and we have not seen DPS take the actions we need them to take. We need a plan to assess student progress, we need support for parents making choices that work for their families, and we need additional resources to support the learning that is happening at home,” said DPS preschool parent Kristin Franke. 

TEN and the other parent groups have developed three specific measures in their Call to Action and would like the DPS Board to respond with a detailed plan by their next Focus on Achievement session scheduled for February 16.

  1.  Measure and communicate student progress to parents, who have an urgent desire to understand whether their child is prepared to move to the next grade level.
  2. Work with school teams, students and families to develop creative solutions to mitigate learning loss, such as funding expanded learning opportunities, high intensity tutoring and social emotional support and student wellness programming.
  3. Work with school teams, students and families to develop a common understanding of what it means to deliver a high-quality free public education to all students in equitable ways.

“Returning to school from online classes was long overdue. My child struggled to learn his letters while we were remote all year, and now that we’re back to school he has already learned to read. The teachers did do a lot to get the children to pay attention and now DPS leadership needs to think about solutions for how we move forward and get students what they need,” said Nallely Antunez, DPS Parent.

"The truth is that with DPS pushing forward with the hybrid in-person learning across all age-groups, I think it is going to become even more important for everyone to ensure all students have access to recorded lessons regardless of whether they are in the building or online. I can't imagine the return is going to be simple or easy for anyone so continuing to record and post lessons online feels tremendously important for everyone. Besides, being able to go back and review what's been covered is really best-practice anyway. And, I think we should give our teachers and leaders some grace right now. This is tough stuff they're being asked to figure their way through," said Kaye Taavialma, DPS parent.

“We’re deeply concerned that the DPS Board is not taking our concerns as parents seriously. Perhaps with this research, our elected officials will finally listen to us and develop a plan. Our children are suffering.” added Franke.  Additional responses from parents on what schools can do to support their childrens’ learning are contained in the Keating research summary.



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