As families around the country start the new school year, having a trusted source for information about their child’s education remains as important as ever. How are parents currently receiving information about their child’s schooling? Do parents find these information sources trustworthy? Which types of information resources would parents find most useful?
In the July wave of the monthly tracking poll, EdChoice and Morning Consult conducted a survey of a nationally representative group of American adults aged 18 and over, consisting of 2,256 participants from July 7-17, 2023. Through further sampling, we received feedback from 1,224 parents with children currently enrolled in K-12 schooling institutions.
Two-thirds of parents indicate they’d find a dedicated website for searching and finding information useful. Other sources include: a directory of information with schools and education providers close to them (59%) and newsletters sent via email (55%). At the other end of the spectrum, parents are least enthused with a dedicated hotline phone number to answer questions and receive information.
Interestingly, nearly 60 percent of parents feel a directory of possible schools and other education providers in close proximity would be useful. This figure not only shows parents’ eagerness and desire to learn about the educational options available to them, but also highlights the lack of such a tool for many. States that have educational choice, as well as states considering enacting choice laws, should look for ways to provide this tool for parents and families. Educational choice advocates can use also this information to find the best methods of communication about parental options.
Understanding how parents currently receive information about their child’s schooling provides valuable context. Three-fourths of parents (77%) are most likely to receive information about their child’s education directly from school. Other popular sources of information include friends/relatives (24%), email newsletter and social media (18%). They are least likely to look to television/radio (8%), church (5%) and billboards (4%) for educational information.
Whether parents feel the sources of information are trustworthy is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle.
As one would expect, 71 percent of parents find schools a trustworthy source of information. But most parents (66%) also consider church a trustworthy information source although very few parents (5%) would go to the church for information. Other trustworthy sources for most parents include email newsletters (65%) and friends/relatives (59%).
Parents are least likely to trust television/radio (40%), news articles (42%) and social media (43%) for educational information. This is likely highlighting the recent trend of waning trust in news and social media among the American public.
As the school year gets back in full swing, parental preferences for how to receive information and their most trustworthy sources of information will be critical for teachers, staff and school administrators to learn how to best communicate important and relevant news and updates to parents.