Parents Overwhelmingly Concerned Their Children Are Falling Behind During School Closures

In Statewide Polls, Parents Reported Significant Gaps in Access to Resources and Elevated Stress Levels for Families by Race and Income

While parents are generally satisfied with how schools and districts have responded during the pandemic so far, there are large gaps between what parents want and what is currently available in the early weeks of school closures.

In all states polled:

  • Nearly 9 in 10 parents are worried about their children falling behind academically due to coronavirus-related school closures, ranking higher than any other financial or socioemotional concern
  • 8 in 10 parents say their child(ren) are experiencing heightened stress levels

Below are key findings for each state, and for more you can read the full results here:

Full Washington Poll Results

Results released May 20, 2020.

“These findings are reminiscent of what we hear in our region. There is unquestionably a need for more access to resources for parents and families, but what seems to be rising to the top is a sincere desire to be in a relationship with their child’s teacher. Robust family engagement strategies strengthen the agency of both parent and educator to be partners in supporting students to be their best selves.”

– Carlina Brown-Banks, senior director of Community Engagement for the Community Center for Education Results

Academic Support

  • Nearly 1 in 5 (17%) parents reported receiving little to no information about academic or other resources from their school or district, including 19% of Black and Latino parents

Digital Divide and Distance Learning

  • About 53% of parents reported challenges with distance learning
  • Roughly 1 in 5 parents who reported having challenges with distance learning reported that they didn’t have reliable high-speed internet access or enough devices at home


  • More than 3 in 4 (76%) public school parents report higher levels of stress than usual. Families earning less than $50,000 annually are experiencing more acute levels of stress – nearly half (47%) of those families report stress levels that are much higher

Full California Parent Responses

Results released April 8, 2020.

Full New York Parent Responses

Results released April 8, 2020.

“Communicating effectively with parents when schools close is no easy task, and teachers, principals, and district administrators deserve a lot of credit. But this is a time to accelerate our work. Right now, we must step up planning to ensure teachers and school leaders have the resources they need to stop learning gaps in their tracks when schools reopen.”

– Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West

“State leaders, school and district leaders, and teachers and other school personnel are making incredible efforts to support students during this unprecedented and difficult period, and the views of parents expressed in this poll should provide even more urgency to focus on the needs of students who are low-income, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities as school closures continue.”

– Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust–New York

Key Findings

Academic Support

  • 4 out of 5 (82%) Latinx and 3 out of 4 (76%) African American parents are concerned they do not have the resources or supplies to help their child stay academically on track
  • Nearly 1 in 4 (21%) Latinx and 1 in 10 (12%) of African American parents reported receiving little to no information about academic or other resources from their school or district. For parents who did receive academic resources, students in low-income households were less likely to receive science instructional materials

Digital Divide and Distance Learning

  • 38% of low-income families and 29% of families of color are concerned about access to distance learning because they don’t have reliable internet at home
  • 50% of low-income and 42% of families of color lack sufficient devices at home to access distance learning


  • 84% of parents of low-income households are concerned about being able to provide financially for their families compared to 72% of those from higher-income households

Key Findings

Access to online learning

  • Ninety-five percent of parents reported that it would be helpful to have regular contact with or access to their child’s teacher, but only half of parents (52%) say their child’s schools have made that available
  • With 88% of parents reporting that their school district is currently using or will soon use remote or distance learning, parents with a household income of less than $50,000 per year are less likely to say distance learning has been successful (52% rate the experience at an 8-10 out of 10) than parents who earn more than $50,000 per year (59%)
  • 64% of parents said schools lending mobile technology devices would be very helpful. That number rises to 72% in families with a household income less than $50,000, and is even higher among parents who live outside of New York City in high needs school districts in large cities (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers)

English learners

  • More than a third (38%) of non-English home speakers and a quarter of native Spanish speakers say their child’s school has not provided materials in other languages. Navigating remote learning software can be challenging even for English-speaking parents, so making accommodations for non-native English speakers and English learners should be a top priority as schools look to reach full participation in remote learning in the weeks ahead

Resources and Recommendations:

For resources and recommendations to promote instructional equity and student well-being visit The Education Trust-New York and The Education Trust-West.

The Education Trust - New York