Millennial Parents and Education
The Quality of Education
- The Quality of Education
- Socioeconomic Status is a Key Driver
- Lower-Income Parents are Less Satisfied
- Performance Measures Vary
- Judging a School as a Whole
- The Most Important Purpose of Education
- Holding Schools Accountable
- The Responsibility of Parents and Teachers
- Supporting Different Approaches to Improving Education
By 2016, around half of all millennial women were moms, and each year more than 1 million more become mothers. As the oldest edge of the millennial generation – those born between 1981 and 1996 – enter their mid-thirties, many millennials now have children who are public school students.
Because of these trends, Echelon Insights, with support from the Walton Family Foundation, wanted to better understand what millennial parents think about today’s public schools, and specifically what their expectations are for what schools will do for their children.
Socioeconomic status is a key driver of views about public schools. Lower-income parents are less likely to say they feel schools are providing kids with a good education.
Lower-income parents are less satisfied with the information they receive about the quality of schools. Fewer than 6 in 10 parents earning under $50,000 per year feel satisfied with the information they have about the quality of school their child attends, while more than 8 in 10 parents earning over $75,000 per year or more feel satisfied with the information they have.
Millennial parents use many different data points to judge whether their child is getting the skills he or she needs to succeed. 56% measure their child’s reading performance based on grades, while 42% measure math skills based on grades.
30% of parents rely on test scores to track how their child is doing in math, while 25% use test scores to judge how their child is performing in reading.
When judging the quality of a school as a whole, millennial parents look to test scores, school culture, extracurricular offerings and graduation rates. In the Echelon Insights survey, the top five pieces of information parents look for to evaluate a school are how a school stacks up on state tests (53%), whether a school has a positive culture (42%), and whether a school offers good extracurricular activities (40%), graduation rates (30%) and the percentage of students that go on to college (26%).
Millennial parents have a wide range of views of what they think the most important purpose of an education should be.
For 38% of parents, the most important purpose of education is “to prepare students for further learning, like college or trade school.” 30% said the most important purpose was “to prepare students for the workforce so they can succeed in a career and make a living.” 21% believe the main purpose is “to prepare students with the life and social skills to be ready for the challenges of adulthood.”
Millennial parents believe schools should be held accountable for performance, and are open to a wide range of methods of holding schools accountable and responsible for giving kids a good education.
Nearly half of all parents with an income of less than $50,000 per year think a school district should be primarily responsible for helping a struggling school improve, while only 15% of parents with an income of over $75,000 place responsibility primarily on the district.
Millennial parents see their children’s teachers as sharing responsibility for turning around struggling schools. 43% say parents should be primarily accountable for improving struggling schools. 42% say teachers should be primarily accountable.
Millennial parents are supportive of a variety of different approaches to improve education opportunity for students in struggling schools.
90% believe struggling schools should receive additional help and resources from the state, such as new curriculum or training for teachers. 70% believe students attending a struggling school should be able to transfer to another public school in the district or attend a public charter school.