72 percent of lower-income parents worry their kids are falling behind in online school, Pew study says

By Juan Perez Jr. 10/29/2020 12:10 PM EDT

Lower-income parents are far more likely to worry their children are falling behind in school because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Pew Research Center study of public opinion about in-person classes and distance learning.

The data released Thursday suggests income and class divides correlate with divergent views on the success of education during the pandemic. Among parents with lower incomes, 72 percent of those surveyed said they were concerned about their kids falling behind, while 63 percent of middle-income parents and 55 percent of upper-income parents shared that concern.

Parents of elementary and high school students who are being taught through at least some online instruction this fall are particularly concerned about their children’s progress, and the survey suggests adults in those households put in the most work to offer additional instruction to kids at home.

Survey breakdown: Fifty-four percent of parents whose students attend only in-person classes say they are very satisfied with how their children’s schools are handling instruction during the pandemic. By contrast, about 30 percent of parents of kids who are receiving only online instruction or a mix of both digital and in- person classes feel the same.

“Still, large majorities of parents across these instruction types say they are at least somewhat satisfied with the way their children’s school is handling instruction,” Pew’s researchers concluded.

At the same time, 62 percent of parents whose children attend in-person classes say they are at least “somewhat concerned” about their children being exposed to the coronavirus at school.

A bigger slice of parents say their children are getting home-schooled, compared to the spring. Seven percent of K-12 parents said they are homeschooling, compared with 3 percent in April.

While only 2 percent of upper-income parents surveyed said their children are being home-schooled, 6 percent of lower-income parents and 9 percent of middle-income parents reported homeschooling.

Behind the numbers: Pew’s conclusions are based on surveys of more than 10,300 randomly selected adult panelists conducted between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19.

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