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K-5 Parents and Teachers: Are They on the Same Page?

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Surveys often tell interesting stories, both in where parties agree—and where they don't.

Such is the case in a recent questionnaire answered by 1,000 public school teachers and parents of elementary students.

Jointly sponsored by the National Education Association and Parenting magazine, the survey set out to explore roadblocks to effective parent-teacher communication. Among the findings reported last week to the Mom Congress, which convened in Washington, D.C.

Whose opinions are taken seriously?

  • Parents: Almost half (48 percent) feel that their opinion is always taken seriously by their child's teachers.

  • Teachers: Only 17 percent feel their opinion is "always taken seriously" by their students' parents.

How is the parent-teacher partnership for education going?
  • Teachers: 54 percent feel that parents do their part at home to ensure that kids get the most out of classroom learning.

  • Parents: Nearly 88 percent consider their child's teacher a partner in achieving success in school.

How supportive are parents to teachers, and vice versa?
  • Parents: Nearly two out of three say their child's teachers offer a supportive response to concerns when they are expressed, and that teachers are willing to help resolve concerns;

  • Teachers: Nearly 80 percent consider parents to be supportive.

How collaborative are parents and teachers?
  • Teachers: Just 7 percent of teachers believe parents aren't given the opportunity to offer input into and participate in school events and activities.

  • Parents: Almost one-quarter say they feel shut out of the collaborative process.

Who is difficult?
  • Teachers: More than two-thirds (68 percent) reported difficulty in dealing with parents.

  • Parents: Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) reported they'd never had difficulty with teachers.

Are you understood?
  • Parents: More than one-quarter of parents stated their biggest challenge has been teachers' perceived lack of understanding for their concerns.

  • Teachers: One in three teachers cited parents' lack of understanding of their child's issues as their biggest challenge.

This survey—which an NEA spokesperson said is not being shared in its entirety because some results will be released at back-to-school time this year—raises interesting questions about how roadblocks to communication can be bridged.

The recent Mom Congress took this up as part of their discussions. "The results from the NEA-Parenting magazine survey show that we still have much work to do to build better communities of learning and connection for our families and students. Knowing that there is a gap means we can now work together to close it," writes Myrdin Thompson, a Mom Congress delegate for the past three years, on her Roots and Wings blog.

What do you think will help narrow the gap?

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