With summer activities winding down and a new school year on the horizon, most parents are likely to say they consider a dedicated website the most useful tool for information about their child’s education and schooling according to a new, national survey from EdChoice.
In partnership with Morning Consult, EdChoice surveyed a nationally representative sample of American adults 18 and older (N=2,556) from July 7-17, 2023. With additional sampling, we obtained responses from 1,224 parents of children currently in K-12 education.
We included several new questions about artificial intelligence and how parents receive information about K-12 education. Additionally, the survey continued the dive into the supplemental activities parents seek for their children outside of regular school hours. Access the full report here.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
1. Parents and the general public feel differently about the direction of local K-12 education. Nearly 60 percent of parents say K-12 education in their local school district is heading in the right direction, a slight increase from June. Americans’ optimism about local K-12 education, on the other hand, fell 4 points in July. Only 32 percent of Americans feel K-12 education is heading in the right direction in their local school district, one of the lowest levels observed since the question was first asked in January of 2020. Furthermore, the 27-point gap between parents and the general public is one of the largest disparities we have seen to date.
2. Parents are most likely to receive information about their child’s education and K-12 education generally, directly from their child’s school. Schools are by far the most popular source of information, with 76 percent of parents indicating that is how they receive information about their child’s education, or K-12 education generally. The second most popular source of information was friends or relatives, selected by only 24 percent of parents.
When asked about potential resources to help gather information on their child’s schooling, 66 percent of parents said a dedicated website for searching and finding information would be most useful. Conversely, a dedicated hotline phone number for educational information would be least useful, selected by only 48 percent of parents.
We also asked parents about the trustworthiness of different sources of information when it comes to news about K-12 education. Receiving information directly from the school (71%), churches (66%), and email newsletters (65%) were the most trustworthy sources of information about K-12 education, according to parents. Receiving information about K-12 education from social media (43%), news articles (42%), and television/radio (40%) were the least trustworthy sources, according to parents.
3. Athletics-based extracurricular activities continue to be the most popular supplemental activity, according to parents. Forty percent of parents said their child was currently participating in athletics-based activities in July. Additionally, 36 percent of parents say their child is interested in, but not currently participating in, athletics-based activities. Arts-focused extracurricular activities were the second most popular extracurricular activity, with 28 percent of parents saying their child is participating in such activities. Athletics and arts have consistently been the two most popular extracurricular activities. Parents were least interested in religious-based extracurricular programs, followed by culture-based programs related to identity, history, or language for their children.
4. A majority of Americans have heard of artificial intelligence (AI), but only a minority have ever used it. More than three-fourths of Americans (76%) have heard “a lot” or “some” about AI. High income earners, college-educated or higher adults, liberals, and male respondents were most likely to have heard about AI. Low-income earners, females, black, and rural respondents were the least likely to have heard about AI. While Americans’ awareness of AI is high, usage of AI is much lower. More than three in five Americans say they have never used AI. More than one-third of parents (37%) say they have used AI. Of the Americans who use AI, most are using it in their free time. Roughly one-third of the respondents using AI report using it for work purposes. Unsurprisingly, Generation Z respondents are the most likely to say they have used AI (51%).
5. District school parents and private school parents have very different reasons for choosing their child’s school. We asked parents to identify the factors that influenced their decision to send their child to a certain school type. More than half of district school parents (53%) listed location as one of their top reasons for why they chose a district school for their child. Cost (29%) and a safe environment (27%) followed location as the top reasons district school parents chose their particular school. Private school parents had drastically different priorities. While location was the third most popular reason (39%), private school parents were far more likely to list academic quality (57%) and a safe environment (47%) as top reasons for why they chose a private school.
6. Americans’ support for school choice policies remained steady in July. Americans’ support for ESAs (no change), vouchers (no change), charter schools (-1 point), and open enrollment (-3 points) remained relatively stable in July. Support for each of the school choice policies from the general public remains above 60 percent. Parents’ support for each of the school choice policies remains much higher than that of the general public and, in some cases, increased slightly in July. Parents’ support for ESAs increased to 79 percent in July (+4 points), while parents’ support for vouchers also jumped slightly to 74 percent (+3 points).
We also gauged Americans’ views on universal vs. needs-based ESAs. More than three in five Americans (61%) agree that ESAs should be available to all families, regardless of income and special needs. Comparatively, only 44 percent of Americans said that ESAs should be available to families based on financial need.
Visit the EdChoice Public Opinion Tracker site to access past reports, crosstabs, and questionnaires. We update our national and state dashboards every month, and we also provide a more in-depth description of our research and survey methods.
Our K–12 education polls archive is updated on a rolling basis, roughly a few times each month. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we are missing any surveys, or if there are accidental errors.