16% of Massachusetts parents would consider holding child back amid coronavirus pandemic: Poll

Fewer than six of out 10 Massachusetts parents say their child has learned enough during the coronavirus pandemic to stay on track and advance to the next grade level in the fall, according to a new poll released Sunday night.

About one of out six Bay State parents — or 16% — say they would consider holding their child back a grade, according to a Pioneer Institute poll on how K-12 education has functioned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than a quarter — 26% — say they’re unsure whether their child’s learning was adequate enough to stay on track. The remaining 58% of parents responded that they think their children have learned enough to advance to the next grade.

Twenty-one percent of Massachusetts parents believe their children’s education has been “entirely compromised” as a result of learning remotely.

The poll on how K-12 education has functioned during the COVID-19 pandemic was conducted recently by Emerson College Polling.

A year into the pandemic, Massachusetts residents have mixed opinions about how K-12 education has functioned, but they tend to view the performance of individual teachers more favorably than that of institutions like school districts and teachers unions, according to the poll.

“Massachusetts residents have not been satisfied with the remote learning Massachusetts schools are providing during the pandemic,” Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios said in a statement. “And they place a fair amount of the blame on the shoulders of both school districts and teachers unions.”

A plurality of respondents (29%) gave the Massachusetts school system a grade of “C” for its pandemic performance. “B” was the second most common grade (26%), followed by both by “D” and “F” getting 18%. Only 10% of Massachusetts residents would give the state’s school system a grade of A.

Parents with three or more children were more likely to give the Massachusetts’ school system an F (22%), than those with only one child (13%) or two children (11%).

A majority (57%) of Republicans and a plurality (40%) of independents gave the school system a grade of D or F, compared to only 23% of Democrats in the state.

A plurality (31%) of respondents said they believe the teachers’ union was heavily involved in the decision to teach remotely. Those living in Boston were more likely to rank the union’s involvement higher, with 36% saying the union was heavily involved.

By a 45% to 39% margin, residents said teachers unions haven’t acted in the best interests of children during the pandemic. Residents were more satisfied with the performance of individual teachers — 49% were very or somewhat satisfied, with only 29% somewhat or totally unsatisfied.

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