Parents Unaware of Kids’ Academic Performance Despite Report Cards


A recent poll showed that most parents believe their children are performing at grade level, even though standardized tests suggest otherwise. Report cards may not reflect the full picture, leading to a lack of awareness among parents about their children’s academic progress.

Parental Perception vs Standardized Test Results

A recent Gallup poll in collaboration with the nonprofit Learning Heroes revealed that nearly 9 out of 10 parents perceive their children to be performing at grade level, despite standardized tests indicating a lower percentage of students on track. The reliance on report cards as the primary indicator of children’s progress may be contributing to this misperception. Bibb Hubbard, founder and president of Learning Heroes, emphasized that while grades are often considered the ultimate measure of a child’s academic performance, they do not necessarily equate to grade-level mastery.

Discrepancy in Academic Performance Perception

The Gallup survey disclosed that 88% of parents believe their child is on grade level in reading, and 89% in math. However, according to a federal survey, half of all U.S. students were reported to start the last school year behind grade level in at least one subject. This significant difference in perception indicates a gap in understanding between parents and school officials regarding students’ academic performance.

Impact of Pandemic on Academic Evaluation

An analysis of grade point averages and test scores in the state of Washington during the past decade uncovered a notable rise in grades amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many districts had relaxed their grading policies to account for the challenges students were facing. While this leniency might have obscured learning gaps, the discrepancy between grades and standardized test results signifies a potential issue in accurately assessing students’ academic progress.

Challenges in Academic Intervention Programs

Despite significant investment of federal pandemic relief funds in academic intervention programs such as tutoring and summer school, the actual participation of students has fallen short of expectations. Dan Goldhaber, director of the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, highlighted the disparity between the number of invited or eligible students and their actual engagement in these programs. This lack of participation reflects the limited awareness among families regarding the necessity of addressing their children’s academic challenges.

Inadequacy of Report Cards

The insufficiency of report cards to provide comprehensive information about students’ academic performance was emphasized by Sarah Carpenter, director of The Memphis Lift, and Trenace Dorsey-Hollins, founder of the advocacy group Parent Shield Fort Worth. They highlighted the limited insight report cards offer, focusing solely on letter grades without addressing crucial aspects such as reading levels. This shortfall in conveying pertinent information may contribute to parents’ lack of understanding about their children’s academic standing.

Empowering Parents through Knowledge

Trenace Dorsey-Hollins emphasized the importance of empowering parents with information, enabling them to advocate for their children effectively within the education system. By equipping parents with a deeper understanding of crucial elements like literacy and grading nuances, they can play a more collaborative role alongside educators to ensure the academic needs of their children are met.