Ep. 352: Monthly Tracker – November 2022

December 13, 2022

Members of our research team discuss the findings from the recent November general population poll. They also review how parents and the general public felt about K–12 education over the course of this year.

Mike McShane: Hello and welcome back to another edition of EdChoice Chats. This is for the year 2022, our final monthly tracker podcast. As frequent listeners probably know, every month in partnership with Morning Consult, we pull a nationally representative sample of Americans. Periodically, we pulled other populations and we’ve chatted about a couple different groups throughout the course of this year, teachers, teenagers, teenagers and their parents, a whole bunch of different special education parents, a whole lot of different folks to get their understanding of what’s going on in the American education system.

So we’re kind of trying to do two things today. One is to talk about our most recent poll release, which was a poll that we put in the field in November from November 10th to 14th, which was kind of an interesting kind of immediate post-election time. So some of the questions we had on politics and stuff I thought were kind of interesting and more kind of looking towards the future after so much was consumed by that election. But then we also want to take some time just kind of looking back on this year. So obviously the three of us have been talking a ton.

We’ve been reading about, writing about, thinking about a year’s worth of polling, both the general population, all these different groups that we’ve looked at. So we do want to take some time and just think, what have we learned this year? But before we get to that, we’ll start with this month’s release. And as always, you can go to the poll’s website, edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com, that’s edchoice.morningconsultintelligence.com, going to navigate to the upper right corner. There’s all these resource downloads.

So you get this wonderful PowerPoint presentation that Morning Consult puts together for us. You can get the cross tabs, which is all of the different demographic groups and all of the questions. I think this month it was more than 400 pages long, so there’s like more data than you could possibly imagine, but every conceivable subpopulation that we poll, their results are in there. Then also sort of like our questionnaire, so we can be super transparent about exactly what we’re doing every month, what we’re asking, how we’re asking it, when we’re asking it, in what order we’re asking it, etc.

But I should say now people are making the assumption, I think, because we’ve become the kind of three amigos here who do this every month. But I am joined by my colleagues, Colyn Ritter and John Kristof. And so John, I might throw it to you first. One of the questions that we ask kind of every month and we think about is, what is the Cleopatra’s Pizza Hut most surprising number? So what was the number that stood out to you maybe most this month that you didn’t expect?

John Kristof: So I’ve been really drawn to the questions that we have been asking about people’s perspectives on the National Assessment for Educational Progress, or NAEP, after the fall releases of scores and results this year were less than ideal, shall we say. By less than ideal, I mean historic drops in scores for reading and math for lower elementary school kids and middle school kids that a lot of people in the education reform and policy space have been kind of concerned about. And I’ve been curious about people not in that space, what their perspective on kids’ academic progress has been.

So we’ve asked questions specifically about this test that is really important for how a lot of big decision makers are looking at schools. And what we’ve found, we’ve asked a number of different questions over the last few months, if you want to check out previous Public Opinion Tracker podcasts that we’ve done over the last few months. I’ve talked about this before because I do find these questions interesting. A different approach that we’ve taken to asking about NAEP this month is we ask parents and then the general public just straight up, have you heard of this before?

And as you might expect, parents are more likely to have heard of NAEP than the general public. They’re involved in the education system. That said, they are essentially about as likely to say that they have heard of NAEP as they are to say they have not heard of NAEP. 33% say that they have heard of NAEP, 33% say that they were not familiar with or have never heard of NAEP before, and then a sizable portion say that they have just not heard of NAEP before. So it’s the people who say that they’re very or extremely familiar versus not familiar, essentially the same.

So if you’re expecting parents to be able to use these scores or look at these scores and make a response to those, your average parent might not. Maybe a third of them will, but your average parent might not. And just as a reference point, the general public is half as likely to say that they are very or extremely familiar with NAEP at 15%. So again, general public probably not looking out for this the same way that people in the ed reform policy space might. And then we also follow it up by asking, have you heard specifically about how your state has done?

So trying to bring this a little bit more local and making it more about performance based. Have you seen something about your state’s performance on this national test? We bring up its nickname as well. Have you heard of the nation’s report card? That’s something else that it’s known by. And however this question is phrased, it actually brings up the amount of adults who say, “oh yeah, I’ve seen something about that” to 19% in school parents, 28% say that they have heard something about how their state has performed, whereas 53% of parents have not, and 19% say that they have no idea what we’re talking about.

So again, there’s a disconnect in how we report accountability measures and how we report performance measures. Stuff that is really relevant to the public at large. Because education is important to the public at large, but especially important to parents because these are they’re kids. There’s a disconnect in the type of accountability measures that we’re doing and what parents are actually experiencing and what parents are actually familiar with. And maybe it’s a bit of a stretch to say that this is the most surprising number to me this month because we’ve seen some questions in previous months that hint toward this a little bit.

But what I’m constantly surprised by and what keeps bringing me back to this is the degree to which this seems to be the case where less than 30% of parents say that they have heard something about how their state has done with NAEP. I think if we are going to do these accountability measures, if we’re going to report on performance, if we’re going to say this stuff is important because it’s important to all of us, and honestly schools and districts and states have a lot of lines to reach parents. We maybe need to do a better job of communicating this to them if we’re going to have a healthy, responsive relationship across the education pipeline.

Mike McShane: Well look, I’m glad you opened the door for not necessarily the most surprising number, but just a kind of broadening the definition of this category to just kind of an interesting number because that’s basically what mine fell into as well. So something that stood out to me, I think if not entirely new this month, a kind of new-ish question that we’ve asked. We’ve asked parents the whole time we’ve been doing this polling to talk about their child’s school and how satisfied they are. And if you’ll listen back to these podcasts or read the blog posts and everything that have been done about this, there’s lots of interesting information of how satisfied parents are.

And you can compare that across sectors and all these. We have decided to drill down a bit. A lot of the questions we’ve asked have been sort of global, like talk about your kids’ school in general, are you satisfied, dissatisfied, etc.? But we’ve tried a couple different ways to try and drill down and get some more specific information about what parents think about their children’s school. And so something that stood out to me this month, we asked questions about math instruction and English language arts instruction.

So the specific question was, based on your observations for your youngest or oldest child, how would you rate his or her current teacher’s effectiveness for teaching? And then one question was reading or language arts, and the other one was math. And what stood out to me? So the breakdown, if we look at total school parents, we’ll start with English language arts, though it’s almost identical for math. 25% say that their child’s teacher is extremely effective. 35% say very effective, 25% say somewhat effective, 5% say not that effective, and 2% say not at all effective. About eight say they don’t know or have no opinion.

So our good friends at Morning Consult, when they put together, they say about 60% of parents would be under effective. So, that’s if you add together extremely and vary. So, that means 40% are not effective. They either think that it’s somewhat, which is kind of a milk toast way of describing it. So we’ll put them in the not really thinking they’re particularly effective or sort of really actively saying that their child’s teacher is not effective and it’s 60% effective for English language arts and 58% effective in math.

And one of the things, and maybe this is sort of a broader thing to think about of what we’ve kind of learned throughout this whole year. But to me, I think so much of this year we’ve been listening to people tell us what people’s experience of schools is. This is what people think about schools or this is how schools are going. And you realize that there’s just diverse experiences of schools in America. So a quarter of people say, it’s going awesome. My kid’s teacher is crushing it. And then you have a kind of messy middle where you have another third of folks say, they’re not extremely effective, but they’re very effective.

Which again, it’s like, hey, we’re okay. We’re having a positive experience, but it’s not knocking our socks off. But they’re all right. And then you see another quarter that say they’re somewhat, and you wonder sometimes if this is sort of parents. They want to give teachers the benefit of the doubt. They don’t want to be too critical. And then you get that other kind of 10% that’s like, no, this is bad. We are in an actively bad situation here. And because America is such an enormous country, and I wrote a Forbes column about this recently, one of these things just kind of dawned on me, is some people might look at this and say, oh wait, well 60% of people are satisfied, say that teachers are effective.

That’s awesome, that’s great, and I’m glad. I want that number to be as big as possible. I want people to be happy with their kids’ teachers. But like 40% of parents not thinking that their kid’s teacher is effective is millions, if not tens of millions of people.

It’s a huge number on both sides of this. 60% of people saying that their kids’ teachers effective is tens of millions of people. And 40% saying it’s not, is tens of millions of people. And the people that are really, really upset, again, at first glance, you look at this and you say, “I don’t know, it’s like 7%, 10% of parents are really thinking that their kid is doing poorly.” But in a school system of 50 million kids, that’s a lot of people, like one in 10 people saying that this is really, really bad is a really big number. And so it’s one of these things where multiple things can be true at the same time. I think that that’s where some of these things might catch people by surprise. Because if you’re only amongst the kind of 25% of people who think that schools are extremely effective, you just can’t put yourself in the shoes of some of those other folks.

And the same is true if your kids’ experience is horrible. It’s very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of other people, but all of these things are happening all at once. And so we do so much to try and bring things up to a higher level and say like, “Well what is going on in America’s schools?” And it’s like, “Well, it depends on who you ask. Depends on where you are.” There’s actually quite a lot of variance in what’s happening there.

And so part of what I think a lot of this work has sort of made me keep reflecting on, and I hope that it’ll show up in my research and my writing, is trying to kind of honor that reality, and trying to make fewer statements that are broad and sweeping about, “Well this is like what’s going on in America.” Or “This is like what it’s like to be a parent in America.” Or “This is like what it’s like to be a child in America.” Because lots of different people are having lots of different experiences even though they’re all sending their kids to school somewhere within the borders of America, between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM every day.

Colyn, what was your Cleopatra’s Pizza Hut most surprising number of the month?

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, so mine actually stemmed from looking at when this survey was in the field, which was November 10th through the 14th, and that’s two days after election day. The week after the election and the midterm elections, like Mike said, depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different response. But it was a very interesting election. One of my main takeaways was that if the focus of the candidate was on education specifically school choice, and pro-school choice candidates did very well in this election. And I find that interesting simply because we have a question about what would you say are the top three issues on your mind when you cast your vote for federal, state and local office? Education issues really took a nosedive in terms of prioritization this month. Even at a local level, it dropped four points below women’s issues, healthcare issues, obviously economic issues kind of reign king, they reigned supreme here in this question always at this time of year.

But we also saw that there was a 10-point decrease in state when voters are talking about state offices, which was a lot of the local elections like state superintendent, a lot of those elections were held last month in November. But in state elections, education was actually the least prioritized issue below things like energy issues, security issues. So that was very interesting. It was also dwarfed in terms of prioritization at a federal level, which is not surprising if you’ve looked at the trends of these, but I mean looking at state offices, education’s issues have hit a low federal offices, they’ve hit a low as well since we started tracking this last year in November. So I thought that was interesting, especially after an election where education was very much on the ballot. It was a very big talking point. And I also think that candidates who prioritized education to a certain extent and school choice did very well in November. So I thought that was pretty surprising to me.

Mike McShane: Look, we’ll do this like a fantasy football draft. We’ll actually snake back around to you because our next sort of category to talk about would be our Frankenstein’s monster against the grain number. And to be fair, sort of some of what you were just talking about I think is kind of against the grain thing. If you watch the coverage of elections, and others and what people said, people prioritized, and what our surveys are telling them that they prioritize are not necessarily one and the same. But was there anything else that stood out to you as that sort of against the popular narrative?

Colyn Ritter: Yeah, I thought about that, it could have fit both categories. There was another one I had. We also asked parents why their youngest or oldest child are enrolled in their certain school type. And this actually brings me back to our other major project that we do throughout the year called Schooling in America. And one thing that I learned in Schooling in America is that a safe environment in terms of qualities that parents want in a school, a safe environment is typically number one, not only for private school parents but also for homeschool parents. And that has stayed true for the most part pretty much this entire year. I almost never even talk about this question, because it is very predictable. Homeschool parents want a safe environment, one-on-one attention. Those are usually one and two. But what I noticed this month was that one-on-one attention for homeschool parents in terms of qualities they’re looking for in a school that skyrocketed 14 points, and it’s just about the same level now as safe environment.

Safe environment dropped 10 points down to 45%, one-on-one attention is at 44%. So I guess that was a little bit surprising and against the grain, it’s not surprising when you think about what homeschool parents want, obviously one-on-one attention, smaller class size, that is a thing that homeschool excels at obviously for reasons that we don’t really need to get into.

But safe environment dropping. It also correlates to parents being less concerned about the possibility of a violent intruder. Not to touch on too many slides here, but there was a bit sharp decrease in parents concerned about a violent intruder entering their school down to 41%, which I believe is the lowest that we’ve tracked in terms of parent concerns. So those two things stuck out to me. I’m wondering why a safe environment is less prioritized for homeschool parents. Obviously one-on-one attention is not very surprising, but maybe with the polling, maybe one-on-one attention continues to rise and be the number one priority of homeschool parents. I think that would be an interesting takeaway from the end of this year, potentially next year when we do Schooling in America 2023.

Mike McShane: It’s funny, we were laughing before we started recording, we were laughing about what we were going to talk about and which slides were going to come up. And there’s always this coincidence that can happen of someone picking the same… Even though each of these slide decks is like 90 slides, and we pick six to talk about, sometimes those Venn Diagrams overlap. And Collin, this one is me picking the same one as you.

Colyn Ritter: Nice, let’s go. Great minds think alike.

Mike McShane: Yes. Now I did it for a slightly different reason, which I was interested in listening to what you were saying there because all of that is true. So there have been these changes over time. But one of the things that just stood out to me sort of on a more basic level about these questions, asking parents why they picked the school that they did. So we list the top three. So we have homeschool parents, private school parents, district school parents. So if we list the top three of each, you have nine slots there. Right? One of the things that really kind of interests me is that academic quality only shows up in one of those nine slots. It comes in second for private school parents, doesn’t show up for homeschool parents, doesn’t show up for district school parents. And I think so much research, stats gathering, conversation debate about schooling, and education reform, and school choice, and all of these things I think as an aside, is probably conducted by people for whom academic quality would be the highest priority and therefore they kind of privilege it over other things.

But I mean if parents aren’t choosing that, and again, this is even across sectors, so it’s not just saying like, oh, well private school parents don’t… Just sort of across the board that people are privileging other things above academic quality. It makes us think about how we talk about school improvement, how we talk about evaluation. We want to evaluate schools. What is a good school? What is a bad school? What is a school that’s succeeding? What is a school that’s failing? All of those questions hinge on the question at what? What are they succeeding at? Well, I don’t know. What are they trying to do? What do we want them to do? And so much of that, I think because it’s easier to measure, and others, has funneled into academics. Well like let’s use reading and math test scores to determine this. And yes, you can collect those and we’ve been doing it for a very long time, and you can do all sorts of fancy statistics with them and answer questions.

But if that’s not why people are picking schools, if it’s not really what they’re prioritizing, we may have to broaden what we’re looking at and broaden what we are thinking about because we might think that schools are trying to maximize one thing, when they’re actually trying to maximize something else. And we might think that parents are trying to maximize one thing when they actually want to maximize something else. So I think that’s just the sort of broader picture of what parents prioritize, cause us to ask these questions about what are schools trying to do? And should kind of color the way that we talk about school effectiveness, school evaluation, comparisons between sectors, comparison between schools, all of those things. John, what was your Frankenstein’s monster against the grain number for this month?

John Kristof: I will take it a little bit of a different direction than what you guys were in to just something a little bit more nerdy possibly. Just because I don’t think we’ve maybe given this the attention that it deserves. So people are very familiar with the school choice related questions that we have asked since the very beginning of this monthly public opinion tracker. Something that we’re very interested in obviously, but we recently started incorporating an additional approach to asking about school choice after our Schooling in America survey that we released in September.

This is a question that was actually written by our fiscal researcher on staff Marty Lueken, where we ask about essentially backpacking funds. We changed the approach to, instead of asking about this specific school choice policy, what do you think about charter schools, vouchers, ESAs, inter intra district enrollment? We give them this very detailed idea of what do you think about a system of student-based funding? It’s going to distribute funds that will vary based on the student background, low income, versus special needs will get more. And then you can use this to go to the school that you want to go to, it’ll follow. And so kind of, instead of specifically asking about a policy, asking about what is your sense about this approach to how we finance education to this backpacking idea.

The numbers were, in the majority across the board there’s a pretty high ratio of people saying I don’t know what I think about this. Which maybe shouldn’t be such a surprise for a question that gets complicated and is very kind of detailed about how we finance education. So that’s not necessarily like a surprise or something to discount, we just threw this in people’s faces a little bit and it’s a little more difficult for people to digest than maybe a policy question. But we knew that going in. Even despite that, the majority of people are in support of a system like this. And also as per usual, this is consistent with our school choice related questions as well or our school choice policy related questions.

Parents are more supportive than the general population as well. And something that I especially want to highlight is that two populations in particular, two groups, special education parents and district school parents are two of the top four supporters of a system like this. These are a couple groups of people that when we’re talking about education reform, especially reform toward increasing educational opportunity and choice and maybe not going to the school that you are districted to. These are two populations of parents that don’t get talked about a lot. In part because district school parents for obvious reasons, many of these people with a more affluent district school parents have moved to a particular district or moved to a particular area to take advantage of the school that is in that area. And less advantaged district school parents often aren’t considered at all. But are often kind of thrown into this, oh, you’re going to hurt these people and these schools that these more disadvantaged people go to if you let funds go elsewhere. All that kind of stuff.

I just think it’s worth acknowledging that district school parents are one of the groups most likely to support this kind of education finance reform that will allow more choice and opportunity and allow opportunities for funding to follow students to the schooling environment of their choice. Special education parents to just state it briefly are a smaller group of parents, but obviously very important and rely on the quality and attention that their school gives to their kids and the flexibility that they see in this kind of reform, this more choice-based way of financing schools as being advantageous to them.

So these are a couple populations that don’t get talked about a lot. Sometimes choice people can focus a lot on your home schools and your private schools and these kinds of parents should be treated well by our way that we fund education, and that’s all true. But I think we also need to acknowledge that there are people who we don’t think about so much who might also very much benefit from a more choice-based approach to financing education that should be a taken into account when we’re having these debates, when these kinds of reforms and proposals are being spoken about in committees and legislatures. This is just something that parents are on board with. I just wanted to draw out those kind of demographic breakdowns a little bit on a question that we’ve actually asked for a few months now, but we just haven’t specifically talked about because the public square does not pay a lot of attention to these kinds of groups of parents and these kinds of lights. Kind of maybe pushes against some people’s expectations of what people are wanting from how their state provides education.

Mike McShane: All three of us have basically kind of already done this to an extent, it’s hard not to sort of after having these conversations every month over the course of this year. But I want to ask a broader question, sort of looking at the sum total of the polling that we’ve done, the trend lines that we’ve been able to put together, but even it could be one-off questions or other things. John, Colyn, what have we learned this year? Taking all of this sort of stuff in, we’ve had this incredible opportunity to survey thousands and thousands of people, and this doesn’t have to necessarily be something surprising but it could be, doesn’t have to be something against the grain but it could be, doesn’t have to pertain to parents or teachers or any individual group, but it could. Colyn, what did you learn this year?

Colyn Ritter: So there’s so much to talk about this year and I almost feel like the one trick pony here, but I want to talk about learning pods again. And Mike, what you said earlier on the pod really resonated with me when you said that when we talk about 30% support or something like that, that is a serious chunk of human beings, that’s millions of people. While learning pods in our November survey that we’re talking about now, decrease in terms of support or people looking or interest in learning pods down to 29%, which is in the lower range of what we’ve seen this year, that’s still 29% of parents who are currently participating or looking to form or join learning pods.

Since the year 2022 started, it’s hovered anywhere between 30, 40%. I mean that is a serious chunk of parents out there, it’s millions of parents out there, who are currently participating or looking to join a learning pod. And the thing that I’ve learned this year is that I don’t think the support for a learning pod is going to waiver. I think learning pods in general are a relatively new concept and they peaked in support during COVID when people are looking for alternative ways of learning. And I think what we’ve learned in 2022 more holistically is that education is not one size fits all. People learn differently. Children learn differently. Parents want different things from schools. Teachers and teachers also teach differently and their experiences are not one size fits all. Teachers support learning pods as well. There’s good middle ground what they expect to be paid and what parents are willing to pay teachers. There’s evidence there that there’s room to work and there’s opportunity there.

I think what we’ll continue to see is that millions and millions of parents will start to learn more about learning pods in general. Understand that it’s not impossible, that there are parents and families out there who are looking for a similar thing in there out. More importantly, there are parents and students and as well as teachers out there who are benefiting greatly from learning pods. I think what I’ve learned is that learning pods are not going away and I believe that’s for the better. I think that even though 29% is a decrease from last month, I think that should be taken seriously. I think that we should continue to be spreading the word because these make real impacts on real families and it’s not impossible to do. Education is not one size fits all. We can help families and children learn in different ways than what we’ve used in the past. And I think learning pods is one such outlet.

Mike McShane: A very good lesson for the year. Outstanding. John, what did you learn this year?

John Kristof: There are a couple topics that come to mind particularly. Colyn’s talked about learning pods quite a bit, which is really important. On a similar topic of education options that cropped up during the pandemic that haven’t necessarily died, just a sense of hybrid schooling in general is not really died as something that people are interested in at least nearly as much as I think people might have expected. There’s actually an interesting chart that we do have on this month’s slide deck. We have a new chart here, I think it’s a new chart, going back to January of 2021, to show changes and trends in the share of parents who want something completely outside of home, the share of parents who want something between one and four days to occur at home and then the share of parents who would like everything to happen at home.

January 2021 was a very different time in our COVID experience, 14% of parents wanted all of their kids schooling to occur at home. And again, the way we phrased this is we’re projecting like, hey, after the pandemic’s over, what are you thinking? 14%. You want to know what this month was? 14%. There’s very little change over this time period as well. There’s a handful percent up, down on a month to month basis, but it’s all hovering around this 14% mark of people’s kind of idealized sense of where schooling will locate, 14% at home. And then we have one to four days at home. There have been a lot of months since January 2021 where more parents were interested in their ideal school week having one to four days of their kids’ school week occurring at home than the parents who wanted completely outside the home. In this month in November, it was completely outside of the home, 45% one to four days, 41% not more than, but close. Last month, the share of parents who wanted one to four days at home was greater than the parents who wanted completely outside the home, and they’re kind of like swapping back and forth fairly consistently going back a number of months.

But the key takeaway here is the share of parents who want in their ideal school week one to four days of a child’s learning occurring at home has been super consistently over 50% since the middle of the pandemic. It hasn’t died, that perspective has not really shifted, and I think we need to really reflect on what we want to do about that. Because that’s not the only thing that I’ve learned this year.

I also want to mention too and I don’t want to step on other toes by addressing all the topics possible here. On the topic of consistency, I’ve also been really surprised by how our school safety questions have looked over time. We started asking these school safety specific questions in the wake of the tragedy that happened in Uvalde back in May. And in the six months-ish that we’ve been asking questions about school safety since there’s been a lot of stability in answers there as well. That’s been surprising to me. You can go back and you can check the tapes. You can see me saying, “I think these numbers about these high levels of concern, think they’re going to die down over the summer just because it’s an attention economy. And sadly, if it’s not right in front of us, we won’t pay attention to it.” And it turns out that, actually, parents are thinking about this, whether the attention economy gives them this or not.

This month was our biggest drop in the share of parents who say that they are extremely or very concerned about a violent intruder entering their kids’ school. It’s still 41%, which is a little concerning. If you go into your school, you’re a school administrator thinking about, hey, two out of five parents who are picking up the kids this afternoon, they might be thinking about this, that they’re glad that there wasn’t something really bad that happened at school today. And it’s been hovering closer to 50% since June.

There’s other questions that we ask about school safety. How do you feel that your child’s school is handling issues like mental health, and guns, and bullying, and violent behaviors? And there’s very little change in parents’ perspectives on how they feel that their schools are handling these issues. So there’s not a lot of overwhelming change that has seems to have happened in the wake of Uvalde. Parents seem to be more positive about how they feel that their school is handling things, that you might expect based on how concerned they are about school shooters haven’t really figured out how all that interacts.

But still, there’s a lot of consistency in how people are approaching school safety questions that I think are really important to policymakers and school administrators. This is something that parents are thinking about, whether there has been a tragedy that’s happened lately or not, whether it’s the thing that the news is covering or not. And I think we just need to think about what kinds of options, what kinds of assurances we’re giving parents that they can see their kids at the end of the day, or just that their kids are safe and having enough of a safe environment, to go back to an earlier topic, to have a good social-emotional academic education experience.

Mike McShane: My lesson, I think, builds off that one, which is, we’ve been asking this question, how do you feel your child or children is our progressing on the following this school year? So we ask about academic learning. We ask about emotional and developmental wellbeing. We ask about social and emotional… I’m sorry. We do academic. We do emotional. We do social. Those are the three things that we ask about.

And one of the things, if you were listening to this podcast in January or February of this year, it really stood out how low those numbers were when we say what percentage of parents said that they were doing very well. Around this time last year, it was like low 30s, high 20s. Academic learning was at 32%. Emotional development and wellbeing was at 29%. And social development was at 27%. Today, or in our most recent iteration of this poll, those have all gone up substantially. Academic learning is up to 49%, saying that they’re progressing very well. Emotional development is 46%, and social development is also at 46%.

And if you look at the trend line on the wonderful slide that Morning Consult made for us, you can see a very distinct shift take place over the course of this summer and then a new level at back to school time. So the end of last school year was basically flat in the low 30s. And then, over the course of the summer, you saw about a 45-degree angle of scores going up and then flattening out at the new level this year.

So I want to end this podcast on this slightly more hopeful note. I think it’s very clear that the last school year was still pandemic mode. There were still lots of disruptions. There were still quarantines. There were still places where schools were doing lengthy periods of remote learning. Schools were closers. All sorts of craziness happening. And obviously, obviously, obviously affected kids. It affected how well they could do academically. It affected them emotionally. It affected them socially.

By and large, this school year has been COVID-free, not COVID-free in the sense that the disease doesn’t exist anymore, but that schools are just rolling with it, that they’re treating it like any other disease that’s happening and they’re basically going back to status quo anti, and we are seeing kids do better. Look, we’re just seeing kids do better, right? They’re progressing, or at least their parents’ perceptions of their progress are doing better academically, emotionally, socially.

And I think that this tells us, look, there will be years, and years, and years where we can debate and discuss decisions that were made during the pandemic. And I would imagine all of us that are on this podcast and all of us that are listening to this podcast have varying degrees of strong opinions about those decisions that were made. But setting all of that aside, just looking at the proof in the pudding, school years that are back to normal, kids are just doing better. That disrupting the school year really has big negative effects on kids. And it’s, obviously… John was spending a lot of time talking earlier about NAEP scores, and we’ve talked about that on here a lot of the negative effects that happen there.

But the hopeful note that I want to close on, as I said, was it appears that this school year has really been a step wise change in the right direction of kids doing better across all of these different dimensions. And I will simply close the podcast by saying, long may it continue. Let’s hope that those numbers continue to stay high. The kids do make the academic, emotional, and social progress that they need to and can thrive in whatever schooling environment that they’re in.

Well, look, as this year come to a close, this is really a Thanksgiving time. Thanksgiving obviously was a couple weeks ago, but we’re heading into the Christmas, New Year end of year time. I just want to say, and I know I speak for all of us on the podcast, that I’m very thankful for all of you who listen to this podcast. Those of you who interact with us on social media, who read what we write, who share this podcast, who rate it, really appreciate it. Thank you so much, and I look forward to talking to you more in the new year about this.

And I obviously am quite thankful for the folks that I’m on this podcast with. So John and Colyn, you guys have been doing great this year. It’s been wonderful chatting with you. So I’m quite thankful for all of you. And I’m super thankful for all of the people on the production team at EdChoice. So Jacob, who’s our fantastic producer of this, but all of the other people who work in our communications team that write up tweets about this and do graphic design to make all the stuff look cool, and email it out to people, and all of that wonderful stuff. And you can almost go on at infinitum. Thank you to all of you.

If you are donors to Ed Choice, thank you. I really appreciate that. That’s awesome. We couldn’t do this without you. And thanks some people at EdChoice who raise money. I’ll stop there, though, knowing that if I left you off that list, anywhere, going back to like my dentist and my second grade teacher, look, I’m thankful for all of you, but I wanted to specifically call out those folks to wish all of you a wonderful happy holidays, whatever holidays you may be celebrating. And look forward to chatting with all of you again in the new year as we continue to look at polling. We’re always trying out new questions. We’re going to keep playing the hits too, seeing how these trends emerge as we start the year of 2023 and continue to learn together. So take care, and look forward to talking to all of you on another edition in the new year of EdChoice Chats.