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Revealing Gaps in Parent-District Communications: Insights from a National Report

K12 Insight’s latest customer service report finds the families who need the most support are disproportionately left out of teacher- or school-initiated communications

Many families of K-12 children nationwide are not consistently receiving the support they need from their school or district when they reach out — especially on topics related to academic performance and behavior, according to a new report published by K12 Insight. These inconsistent interactions also relate to how families perceive their district and whether they would recommend it to others. 

“Today’s education environment is overwhelming on many fronts for both families and educators but it’s now more important than ever for school districts to commit to delivering superior customer service with every interaction,” said Krista Coleman, Chief Customer Officer at K12 Insight. “We found customer service isn’t the same at every level throughout a district which has a critical connection to how families perceive their district. Investing in strong communications and customer service districtwide is crucial for all administrators and managers across departments so they can improve perceptions of not only their district but also themselves.” 

K12 Insight’s National Report on Customer Service in Schools explores the relationship between families’ perceptions of their children’s academic and behavioral performance and their engagement with teachers and administrators on these topics. It also examines the outcomes of these interactions and how they relate to the Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings of school districts. To gather this data, K12 Insight surveyed over 1,400 parents and guardians nationwide who have children enrolled in K-12 schools. 

Through NPS, families can be categorized as Promoters, Passives, or Detractors. Promoters are highly satisfied with their school district, whereas Detractors are dissatisfied and would not recommend their school or district to others. Passives are typically satisfied but not happy enough to be a Promoter. 

The survey found parents who are getting the help they need or already know where to go for information are more satisfied with their school district, which results in a higher NPS rating. Detractor families, on the other hand, are reaching out about their child’s academics and behavior often, but not getting the support they need. Detractor families also disproportionately feel left out of teacher- or school-initiated communications, and when compared to the perceptions of Passive and Promoter families, Detractor families feel they receive fewer teacher-initiated contacts on top of having their requests ignored more frequently.

Below are additional key findings from the report: 

  • More Promoter families report having children performing above average than Passives or Detractors in every core subject area (reading, math, social studies, and science).
  • Detractors have more children performing below average or failing than Passives or Promoters in every core subject area.
  • Nearly one-third of Promoter families said they’d been contacted by their child’s teacher nine or more times since the beginning of the school year compared to only 8% of Passives and 6% of Detractors.
  • One-third of parents either didn’t receive a response or didn’t receive a helpful response when they contacted their child’s school administrator, counselor, or Special Education department.
  • After a teacher contacted the parent, 46% of Detractors said they did not communicate further or the further communication was not helpful; 21% of Passives and 18% of Promoters responded similarly. This shows Promoters generally feel they are getting helpful answers while Detractors are often not getting the help they need. 

“When interactions at the teacher level are positive and other interactions throughout the district are negative, it leads to the impression that the district is not aligned in their focus on customer service,” said Kate Shoulders, Ph.D., Senior Director of Research at K12 Insight. “Although it’s a slight difference, increases in Net Promoter Score are more strongly related to the school or teacher making the first contact. This means schools could benefit from contacting parents about both academics and behavior — before the parent has to reach out.”

For a deeper dive into the report’s findings, read the full report. 

Each quarter, K12 Insight publishes a report with insights and trends education leaders can use to inform their customer service and communications strategies. To read the previous national reports by K12 Insight, visit k12insight.com/cx-reports.

By K12 Insight
Originally published July 10, 2023 Last updated April 8, 2024