Schools with engaged parents more likely to receive an 'A' grade

Parents say their schools are prepared for emergencies

Nov 14, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Schools and report cards are a natural fit in Americans' minds, but we typically think of schools as the arbiters of grades - not as the recipients. But of course, schools are as much under the microscope as their students, with new national, statewide and local ratings released regularly. Parents' own opinions of their children's schools can be informed by any number of factors, but a new Harris Poll among parents of school aged (K-12) children reveals higher levels of parent satisfaction when the school adequately seeks out parent input. 

(Logo: )

Overall, roughly six in ten (61%) parents of school aged children feel their child's school seeks their opinions as a parent an adequate amount, while over a third (36%) say the school does not seek this as much as they'd like. Only 3% say their child's school seeks their opinions more than they'd like. Looking deeper, these sentiments prove to be consistently and strongly tied to dramatic shifts in other feelings toward their children's schools.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,027 adults (376 of whom have children in grades K-12) surveyed online between October 10 and 14, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, with data tables, can be found here)

When asked to give a letter grade to rate their overall satisfaction with their child's school, parents who feel the school seeks their opinions an "adequate amount" are roughly twice as likely to grade that school in the 'A Range' (A or A-) (57%), compared to parents that say the school does not seek their opinion as much as they would like (with 29% grading the school an A or A-).

Outreach also tied to stronger ratings on specific school measures 
Parental satisfaction with the school's level of outreach is also tied to dramatically higher positive feedback on other school measures. Those parents who feel their child's school adequately solicits their opinions are anywhere from 2.5 times to over 6 times as likely to show strong agreement with each measure, when compared to those whose children's schools don't reach out as much as they'd like:

  • Is trustworthy (56% and 17%, respectively).
  • Delivers on promises (53% and 11%, respectively).
  • Cares about the satisfaction of its employees (50% and 20%, respectively).
  • Cares about the satisfaction of its students (50% and 15%, respectively).
  • Values me as a parent (50% and 14%, respectively).
  • Cares about the satisfaction of its parents (51% and 8%, respectively).
  • Is open and honest about procedures and policies (57% and 21%, respectively).

"Parent satisfaction has important implications for schools and families." says Michelle Gosney, Sr. Research Manager at Harris Interactive, "We have been measuring parent, teacher and student satisfaction across school districts in the United States for more than 20 years through the Harris Poll School PulseSM and see that satisfied parents are more involved and supportive which makes both administrators' and teachers' jobs easier.  Additionally, we know that satisfied students are better able to learn and satisfied employees are more productive.  It is critically important for administrators to understand what drives their school satisfaction among these key stakeholder groups." 

Emergency preparedness 
With the national attention around school preparedness in the event of an in-school emergency, this same Harris Poll also gauged parent perceptions on this important topic. While it's hoped that parents can reasonably expect their children to be safe in the school's care, it's reassuring to see that even in the case of unforeseen emergencies, majorities of parents with school aged children feel the school is completely or very prepared for a fire (75%, 95% at least somewhat prepared), natural/weather related events (69%, 95% at least somewhat prepared), a lock down or lock out event (67%, 93% at least somewhat prepared) or a bomb threat (59%, 85% at least somewhat prepared).

Even in this highly specific aspect of school performance, parents who feel their opinions are "adequately asked" are more likely than others to feel their child's school is completely or very prepared for two of the four emergency types tested:

  • Lock down or lock out event (73% adequately asked vs. 60% others).
  • Bomb threat (64% adequately asked vs. 51% others).

For information regarding Harris Interactive's Harris Poll School Pulse satisfaction management tool, please contact

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 10 and 14, 2013 among 2,027 adults (aged 18 and over), 376 of whom have children in grades K-12. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #83, November 14, 2013

About Harris Interactive 
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive

SOURCE Harris Interactive