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Denver K-12th Grade Parents Poll Key Findings


TEN, alongside African Leadership Group, Stand for Children and Faithbridge released a poll of Denver Parents about their satisfaction with their educational experience this year. Below is the polling data, which reflects what we are hearing loud and clear from families: Parents are frustrated, lost and are in need of a plan.

These results are based on an online survey conducted among 647 parents of a K-12th grade school age child or children in the City of Denver conducted by Keating Research from January 4-10, 2021. This survey sample of 647 is meant to accurately represent the population of Denver’s K-12th grade school parents by gender, age, income and ethnicity. Respondents were given the opportunity to complete the survey in English or Spanish.


1) A majority of parents are satisfied with the learning options that DPS is offering to its students.


When Denver parents are asked if they are satisfied or dissatisfied with the learning options that Denver Public Schools is offering to students, a majority 57% say they are satisfied, while 36% are dissatisfied and 7% don’t know.

  • Satisfaction with the learning options in Denver Public Schools is significantly higher among Black (64% satisfied to 30% dissatisfied) and Hispanic (68% satisfied to 31% dissatisfied) parents compared to white parents (41% satisfied to 44% dissatisfied).

  • Among parents with children attending Denver Public Schools, nearly two-thirds (64%) are satisfied with the learning options Denver Public Schools is offering to students. • Kindergarten parents (48% satisfied – 41% dissatisfied) are less satisfied with the learning options in Denver Public Schools as compared to Elementary (55% satisfied – 39% dissatisfied) and Middle and High School parents (62% satisfied – 32% dissatisfied).

2) Two-thirds of parents feel that their student is learning less online compared to in person learning.


When parents are asked to compare how much their children are learning online compared to in person, a 2- to-1 majority - 65% say their children are learning less, while about one quarter (28%) say they are learning the same amount or more.



The feeling that children are learning less during online learning is prevalent among parents throughout Denver including in SBD #3 East Denver (73% learning less), SBD #1 Southeast (69% learning less), SBD #5 Northwest (64% learning less), SBD #2 Southwest (62% learning less) and SBD #4 Northeast (60% learning less).


One consequence of learning less online is that parents are divided about the job that schools are doing educating their children during the pandemic. Half (50%) of parents feel that schools are doing a fair (30%) to poor (20%) job educating their child during the pandemic, while the other half (49%) feel that schools are doing an excellent (20%) to good (29%) job educating their child during the pandemic. Parents of children attending DPS are equally divided with 51% saying fair or poor and 49% saying excellent or good.


3) Nearly 1-in-6 (17%) of Denver parents say they have taken action this semester by either homeschooling their child instead of remote learning (8%), transferring their child to a private school (6%) or by enrolling their child in another school district (4%).


Three-of-four (75%) of the parents that transferred their child to a private school are in the upper income, making more than $75,000 per year, and half (49%) of the transfers to private school are among white families. In addition, the transfer is significantly more likely to occur with kindergarten children (18% transferred to private school) than with high school students (2% transferred to private school).


Hispanic (11%) and Black (9%) parents are significantly more likely to have decided to homeschool their child instead of remote learning, compared to white (2%) families.


4) On average, parents say their child is engaged in live, real time instruction with a teacher for about four hours per day.


When Denver parents are asked how many hours during an average school day their child is engaged in live, real time instruction (remote or in-person) with a teacher, the majority 57% say 4 hours or less, while 39% say 5+ hours and 4% don’t know.

  • Elementary school parents are more likely to say their child receives 4 hours or less of instruction with a teacher. (60% say 4 hours or less and 37% say 5+ hours)

  • Middle school parents are more likely to say their child receives 5+ hours of instruction with a teacher. (44% say 4 hours or less and 53% say 5+ hours)

Nearly 4-in-10 (39%) parents feel that their child is not getting enough time receiving instruction from their teachers, which is particularly true of Kindergarten parents (52% feel their child is not getting enough time receiving instruction from their teachers). In addition, the majority 56% of parents feel that their child is not getting enough time to interact and communicate with other students.


5) Parents are most likely to feel that their child misses or has a hard time understanding lessons during online learning or that their child doesn’t interact or engage online.



The top three experiences that parents are witnessing during online learning have to do with difficulty understanding lessons and participating online, which helps explain why the majority of parents feel their child is learning less during online learning.


  • Nearly half (49%) say that their child frequently or occasionally misses or has a hard time understanding lessons, so they are or feel they are behind when the class moves to the next topic. This experience is more likely among parents with children in kindergarten – 57% frequently or occasionally and among parents with special education supports – 68% frequently or occasionally.

  • Nearly half (48%) of parents say that their child frequently or occasionally logs in for remote class but doesn’t interact or engage. This experience is also more likely among parents with children in kindergarten – 60% frequently or occasionally and among parents with special education supports – 55% frequently or occasionally.

  • 40% of parents say they frequently or occasionally must look for online resources outside of school to help themselves or their child understand a lesson or catch up to the rest of their class.

Technical problems, slow or unstable internet, and teacher response times are significantly less frequent experiences for parents, but not insignificant when it pertains to learning online.

  • 29% of parents say that frequently or occasionally computers, hot spots or other devices their child uses for remote learning have technical issues that interfere with their classes and school work.

  • 28% of parents say that frequently or occasionally the internet is too slow or unstable for their child to participate in live video lessons.

  • 27% of parents say that frequently or occasionally it takes a long time to hear form their child’s school or teacher when they have questions.

Teachers not showing up for remote lessons is the least frequent experience.

  • Only 12% say that frequently or occasionally their child’s teacher has not shown up for remote lessons and their child had no connection to their education for a whole day

It’s no surprise then that when parents are asked to volunteer anything else

that schools can do to support their children, they are most likely to say get children / students back to in person learning and their children would like in person learning, such as with these respondents:


“Bring back in person learning. My child is suffering academically. In addition, online school is impacting my children’s mental health.”
“Just get back to in person. My child’s mental health has suffered greatly. Being in front of a screen for this much time is not acceptable for children.”
“They understand the necessity of remote school. They miss in person school a lot.”

6) Regular live access to teachers, lessons and office hours are the most helpful for families navigating online learning during the pandemic.


When parents are asked about some things that schools could provide to help students and parents with remote learning, the most helpful is providing students with regular live access to their teacher, such as live online lessons or phone/video calls - 86% say it is very or somewhat helpful, including 57% very helpful. The next most helpful is providing students with optional office hours to support their learning when they are unable to participate in regularly scheduled class time – 80% say it is very or somewhat helpful, including 46% very helpful.


The next most helpful items that schools can provide include the following with 3-of-4 saying it would be very or somewhat helpful:

  • Providing students with regular access to recordings of lessons and school work that can be done independently of their teacher – 78% very or somewhat helpful, including 41% very helpful.

  • Providing parents or students with regular contact with or access to a school counselor to support your and your student’s mental health – 77% very or somewhat helpful, including 43% very helpful.

  • Providing technical assistance to help families get set up for remote/distance learning and troubleshoot technical issues – 76% very or somewhat helpful, including 42% very helpful.

  • Providing working parents with opportunities to connect with teachers or the school outside of regular working hours – 74% very or somewhat helpful, including 43% very helpful.

  • Connecting students with after school care or extracurriculars to keep students mentally, physically, and emotionally connected and supported – 72% very or somewhat helpful, including 43% very helpful.