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Homeschooling: Parents Satisfied with School Support See Greater Learning Progress in Children

The temporary closures of schools in this year’s spring resulted in parents across Germany having to supervise the homeschooling of their children. The fourth evaluation of the Corona supplementary survey as part of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), the largest long-term education study in Germany, now examines how satisfied parents were with the school's support during that time and how they assessed their children's learning success. Data from surveys of 1,452 parents of 8th grade students show that parents' general satisfaction with school support and their children's perceived learning success are closely related. In contrast, parents' educational background and satisfaction with learning materials as well as the type of school their children attend play a minor role.

How satisfied were the parents with the general support provided by the schools, the information policy of the schools, the learning materials for homeschooling, and what learning gains did they perceive in their children? The newest NEPS Corona evaluation offer differentiated answers to these questions, painting a more positive picture than might be expected given the previous discussion about homeschooling.

Information policy of “Gymnasium” is rated better

During the height of the pandemic, schools played an important role as transmitters of current information. At least half of the parents surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the transmission of information on the current situation, the implementation of measures and help for learning at home, while the other half felt poorly or only somewhat informed. There are clear differences here between the different types of school: Parents whose children attend the “Gymnasium” stated in the majority that they felt well (46%) to very well (10%) informed by the school. By contrast, among parents with children in “non-gymnasium” types of schools, only 27% felt well informed and 12% felt very well informed. With regard to satisfaction with the learning materials provided by the schools, however, no such difference between the school types was apparent. Here, almost half of the parents were very or rather satisfied, while a quarter were (rather) dissatisfied with the materials.

Parent satisfaction and learning success go hand in hand

When asked about parents' perceived learning success of students during the period of school closures, there was also no significant difference between school types when controlling for other family factors (such as educational background and parents' assessed ability to support their children in learning) and parents' satisfaction ratings. But also the satisfaction with the learning materials and the satisfaction with the information transfer surprisingly do not play a decisive role for the perceived learning success. The parents' assessment of their children's learning success in the main subjects is rather related to how well they generally felt supported by the school. The more satisfied they were with this, the more likely they were also to report at least comparable learning progress in comparison to regular school time. Accordingly, half of the parents who felt very well supported said that their children had learned more or as much during school closures as they had at school. Only 11% of these parents said their children had learned significantly less.

The actual development of skills remains an open question

One question that remains unanswered for now is how the temporary school closures actually affected children's performance and skills in secondary school. This question is addressed by the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), which follows families and children through the educational process and surveys various competencies of students in addition to interviewing parents. For example, in future surveys, the children who attended 8th grade during the school closures will be compared by competency tests with a cohort that went through the education system on a regular basis. Thus, questions about the actual impact of pandemic-related school closures on educational success can also be answered in more detail in the future using NEPS data.


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