New National Survey Reveals Parents’ Mindsets in the 2022-2023 School Year

New National Survey Reveals Parents’ Mindsets in the 2022-2023 School Year

National PTA today released the results of a national survey exploring parents’ mindsets in the 2022-2023 school year. The survey, which included 1,400 parents and guardians with children in grades K-12 in public schools, focused on the topics of pandemic recovery, parents’ concerns for their children, mental health supports, curriculum content and dis-/mis-information. It was conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 15, 2022, by Edge Research. This is the fourth in a series of surveys commissioned by National PTA and supported by the CDC Foundation, including one reported in September 2021, one reported in January 2022, and one reported in June 2022.

Key findings of the latest survey show:

  • Parents’ comfort level with in-person schooling continues to improve. However, this comfort remains uneven across key subgroups, especially among parents of color.
  • Parents’ concerns remain relatively consistent year-over-year, with the exception of school violence. This is the only concern that garnered a statistically significant increase since the last wave of the survey, fielded in April/May 2022.
  • Parents value and emphasize mental health supports for students and most support schools conducting mental health evaluations of students to support their well-being. Parents want more information gathered and shared with them so they can be part of the solution supporting their child’s mental health.
  • The data also reveal that parents have difficulty finding existing mental health supports in schools. Less than four-in-10 parents are very confident they know whom to ask at school if their child needs mental health supports, and a majority believe mental health supports offered by their child’s school have remained unchanged or decreased compared to before the pandemic.

“As underscored by the survey findings, it remains critical for all of us to work together to promote learning environments where students feel safe and to ensure that children and their families have access to comprehensive supports,” said Anna King, president of National PTA. “At PTA, we remain committed to bringing together families, schools and communities; bringing knowledge, tools and resources into the lives of families; and advocating to make sure they are safe, have what they need, help them navigate challenges and thrive.”

In the survey, 82% of parents reported they feel comfortable having their child at school in-person, 65% of parents said their school has done an ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ job managing pandemic-related challenges, and 76% of parents said they feel their school is prepared to keep children safe in the event of a future pandemic. As parents’ comfort level around the COVID-19 pandemic continues to improve, their worries are re-focusing on pre-pandemic concerns. Fifty-three percent of parents reported they worry about their child experiencing violence at school; 51% of parents reported they worry about their child being bullied at school; and 51% of parents reported they worry about their child struggling socially, emotionally or mentally. Parents’ concern about their child experiencing violence at school has increased since last school year. And across all concerns, Hispanic parents are significantly more worried than Black and White parents.

“Though parents are increasingly comfortable with their children being in school, strong parental support for school-based mental health services indicates the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “This survey provides critical parental perspectives that can inform future public health initiatives around youth mental health.”

Most parents surveyed (88%) indicated they support schools providing resources and services to support their child and other students’ emotional and mental health. Few parents (37%), however, reported feeling very confident they would know who to ask or how to find resources through their school to support their child’s mental health. And only 31% of parents indicated their child’s school now offers more programs or resources for students’ mental health than before the pandemic. Sixty-six percent of parents who indicated they are not aware of their schools doing mental health evaluations reported they would want their child evaluated if such a program existed, and 60% of parents surveyed also reported they would want to be informed of how their child is doing emotionally/mentally if their school did conduct evaluations. When asked what resources schools should offer for students and families if evaluations show that they could use additional support for their emotional or mental health, some key resources parents mentioned included in-school counselors or psychologists, referrals to external providers, interventions being integrated in the school day and efforts to keep parents informed and involved.

“Schools are on the frontlines of the mental health crisis among young people. These data highlight the importance of schools being safe sources of support amidst this crisis. They also highlight how invested parents are in partnering with schools to make sure that their children have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to thrive,” said Dr. Kathleen Ethier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Sixty-nine percent of parents surveyed said it is important for their child’s school to have programs or policies to address or provide social and emotional learning. Seventy-six percent of parents surveyed said it is important for their child’s school to teach social skills like respect, cooperation, perseverance and empathy, and 75% of parents surveyed said it is important for their child’s school to have programs or policies to make sure all students feel seen, heard and included. Parents also support teaching content on race in schools, and most parents believe these topics should be introduced by the fifth grade.

“Making sure the voices and perspectives of parents are heard is a top priority for us at PTA,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “Our latest survey and all the surveys we have commissioned in our series have been an important opportunity for us to hear from and elevate parents’ views on topics important to children’s education, health, safety and well-being. And this is important to our efforts to support all children and families and make a difference for the lives and futures of every child.”