Report: Parents say learning should be part of everything, everywhere, all at once

SailFuture, a private high school, started as a mentoring program for at-risk youth by teaching them maritime skills through sailing adventures. It recently was named as one of 32 semifinalists for the $1 million Yass Prize to be awarded in December.

Consulting firm Tyton Partners, in collaboration with the Walton Family Foundation and Stand Together Trust, today released a new report, Choose to Learn 2022, that looks at data collected from more than 3,000 K-12 parents and more than 150 K-12 suppliers across all 50 states in the United States.

The report finds that 52% of parents now prefer to direct and curate their child’s education rather than rely on their local school system, and 79% of parents believe learning can and should happen everywhere as opposed to in school alone. Data shows that parents want experiences that make their child happy, above all else, by reflecting their child’s interests and providing individual academic support. However, despite all parents reporting similar goals for their children, regardless of demographics, the study reveals gaps in program participation across income and race. For example, children from underserved backgrounds are nearly two times less likely to participate in learning outside of school than their peers.

Choose to Learn 2022 explores the variety of K-12 options now available to families – inclusive of both in- and out-of-school educational offerings – and how this ecosystem can better reflect families’ broader aspirations for their children. The publication follows recent findings from Tyton Partners’ School Disrupted 2022 series, which highlighted the near 10-percent decline in district public school enrollment due to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In viewing K-12 through a broad lens, we set out to better understand the issues impacting every family, including more than forty million parents who send their children to public school,” according to Christian Lehr, Senior Principal at Tyton Partners and the lead author of Choose to Learn 2022. “Relative to issues of equity and access, our local public districts play a crucial role for K-12 families. At the same time, families crave a wide variety of learning experiences. It is in this spirit that we examined parents’ aspirations at the intersection of in- and out-of-school learning, and ask: How can the K-12 sector deliver a stronger union of academic, extracurricular, and personal outcomes for all families, regardless of life or economic circumstances?”

Based on these findings and more identified in this study, it is clear now more than ever that parents want an education centered on the needs of their child, yet there is continued work that needs to be done to bridge the gap between aspiration and reality. It is incumbent upon the K-12 system of policymakers, system leaders, and suppliers to introduce new experiences, choices, and outcomes into local school districts and catalyze the growth of programs outside of school and across all demographics.

Choose to Learn 2022 underscores the need for the K-12 system to move towards a more student-centric future and helps readers understand how to:

  1. Define the K-12 landscape of in- and out-of-school offerings families can choose from
  2. Explore families’ aspirations and needs for their child’s K-12 education
  3. Identify key issues the K-12 community must prioritize to catalyze a student-centric future

“We are honored to have the opportunity to drive this pivotal conversation forward, alongside our partners, the Walton Family Foundation and Stand Together Trust,” according to Adam Newman, Founder and Managing Partner at Tyton Partners. “There is a clear call for us to collectively build towards a more student-centered future in K-12 education.”

To view the findings and learn more about this study, download Choose to Learn 2022 on the Tyton Partners website.

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BY Special to NextSteps