Survey: Parents and Caregivers Increasing Agency Over K-12 Schooling Choices

by: Adam Newman, Tanya Rosbash, and Andrea Zurita | Papers |May 12th, 2021

Tyton Partners releases “School Disrupted,” a three-part series investigating the scale and scope of alternative education models and the future state of K-12 in the wake of COVID-19

Parent agency increased dramatically as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country during the last year. Without notice, households were forced to change behavior, schools to transform learning models, and parents and caregivers to adjust the role they play in their children’s education, according to the first in a three-part investigative series titled “School Disrupted,” which examines how households grappled with the impact of COVID-19 on K-12 learning models.

The longitudinal survey of 3,000 parents across the country was conducted by Tyton Partners in Fall 2020, with support from the Walton Family Foundation.

“The pandemic has drastically accelerated the scale and scope of alternative learning models in the K-12 ecosystem, such as learning pods, but awareness, access, and affordability remain big issues,” said Tanya Rosbash, Director at Tyton Partners.

Key takeaways from the first phase of the survey include:

  • Parents and caregivers took greater responsibility for school decision-making. More than 15 percent switched their child’s school for the 2020-21 academic year, which is estimated to be 50% higher than behavior pre-pandemic.
  • School enrollments shifted with public and private schools experiencing an estimated decrease of 2.6 million in student enrollment; charter schools, homeschooling, learning pods, and microschools all realized net increases.
  • The pandemic catalyzed growth of supplemental learning pods – defined as cohorts of students gathering in a small group – with adult supervision and outside the framework of their traditional physical or virtual classroom – to learn, explore, and socialize.
  • Households spent an estimated $20 billion more on an annualized basis on education-related activities, primarily stemming from the emergence of supplemental learning pods.
  • Five activities independently correlated with a parent’s positive perception of their child’s learning experience during COVID-19.
  • Limited awareness of, and access to, alternative and emerging learning models significantly hindered parent agency, particularly for parents at lower-income levels.

“We hope our research will shine light on the impact of the pandemic on K-12 education, and what can be done to mitigate inequities resulting from the events of this past year, specifically how the K-12 ecosystem can continue to evolve to better serve all students,” noted Adam Newman, Tyton Partners Co-founder and Managing Partner.

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