Parents of California High Schoolers Want Personalized Instruction to Help Students Recover Learning Loss of the Past Year

The pandemic exposed the gaps of a one-size-fits-all education system. Remote learning is better suited to small group and individual instruction, so with schools struggling to figure out online classes, most students were not engaged and learning – especially students of color, those from low-income households and students who have special needs.

As schools and districts consider how to reengage students and recover learning loss this fall, a new public education campaign by a coalition of education experts and advocates launches with guidance on how to best serve vulnerable students in California and beyond. The Good4U coalition recommendation includes three targets:

  1. Equal and Fair Access to Education and Opportunity – Ensure all students have equal access to academic resources, technology and social-emotional support to succeed in a positive and safe learning environment.
  2. Personalized Learning with Trauma-informed Practices – Tailor curriculum and wrap-around services with trauma-informed care, flexible and specific to what the individual student needs.
  3. Job and Life Skills Training – To give students a jump-start on their futures with social-emotional learning and job skills training to provide businesses a skilled workforce.

California parents want these concepts for their high school students. The coalition commissioned an independent statewide opinion research survey conducted prior to the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year to examine the opinions of California parents with high school-aged children. Eight hundred parents completed interviews (plus an oversample of African American respondents) to quantify parental receptivity towards these educational approaches. Both potentially positive and negative perspectives were tested to understand resiliency of opinions.

The poll revealed:

  • 83 percent of California parents say that equity in public high school is important.
  • 91 percent say it’s important to understand the unique challenges faced by individual students and provide additional support to overcome those barriers.
  • 89 percent say it’s important to structure school to serve individual students, rather than forcing a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
  • 92 percent say it’s important to ensure students advance from grade to grade based on their competency in subject matter, not how much time they spend in a classroom.
  • 83 percent say it’s important to deliver personalized learning with life and job skills to our most vulnerable students.
  • 86 percent say it is important to treat behaviors associated with trauma-induced stress and grief as opportunities to teach life skills, not as discipline cases.
  • 86 percent say it’s important to address societal inequalities by keeping kids connected to food, counseling and technology, especially in rural areas and for students of color.

“The support for these education concepts by California parents is off the charts,” said Justin Wallin, CEO of J. Wallin Opinion Research which conducted the phone surveys. “As a pollster, we generally look for a 65-percent threshold of alignment to show how strong support or opposition may be for an idea. The numbers in this poll revealed support in the 80-90-percent range, which is remarkable and reflects a broad and deep appreciation – regardless of political party affiliation, gender, age group or geographic location. Politicians and school districts should certainly sit up and take notice.”

According to the poll, 59 percent of parents are satisfied with the quality of public high school education in California, though satisfaction is “soft” with only 16 percent strongly agreeing.

Poll results demonstrated a strong preference for greater dialogue about the need for equity in education. The overwhelming support by parents surveyed led to the creation of the Good4U public awareness campaign, developed by the coalition to bring stakeholders of all communities together. The Good4U campaign is rooted in the idea that everyone – whether they have schoolchildren or not – should care about all students having equal opportunity for a quality education. Personalized support, especially for the most vulnerable students, is not only good for students, but also for teachers, communities, economies, neighborhoods, public services, crime rates, mental health and more. It’s good for us all.

Polling Methodology:

From Friday, March 19 through Wednesday, March 31, 2021, J. Wallin Opinion Research conducted a telephone survey of voters who are parents of one or more high-school-aged youths throughout the state of California. Eight hundred interviews were completed (plus an oversample of 71 additional African American respondents to equal 100 total of that demographic). The survey was administered in Spanish and English languages and contacting both mobile and landlines (78 percent of this survey was completed on mobile phones – of these, 62 percent – or 30 percent of the total sample – of the survey was completed via text-to-online). A survey of this size yields a margin of error of +/-3.7 percent (95 percent confidence interval).

Source: Businesswire