Back to School: Anticipating Parent Concerns – Event Recap

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District leaders, school principals, teachers, and PTO members joined Possip to learn what our data says are the most pressing concerns parents share at the beginning of the year. For each top trend, Possip shared tangible strategies and ideas to get ahead of those concerns. For every trend, Possip shared unedited and anonymous family responses to illustrate the range of concerns.

The top three beginning of the year trends include the following:

  1. Communication
  2. Car Lines and Transportation
  3. School Safety

Other top trends include Teacher Feedback, Curriculum Feedback, Academic Support, Student Discipline / Bullying, Extracurricular Activities, Facilities and Cleanliness, Cafeteria Feedback, and Administrative Feedback.

How Does Possip Know What Parents are Wondering?

Possip collects and analyzes feedback from families in schools, networks, and districts from almost 40 states. Our data represents over 1 million people who have submitted 1.65 million responses since our founding in 2017.

The insights our panel shared came from analyzing nearly 100,000 Pulse Check responses that were submitted in August and September in 2022. With every Pulse Check, administrators receive a customized report created by our team of current and past educators. Click this link to meet our Possip reporters!

Top Trend #1: Communication

Families’ top concern at the beginning of the school year is communication from the school: what is shared, how often information is shared, and how it is shared. Accordingly, Jennifer Kehl, Possip’s VP of Delivery observed, “Communication is tangible and offers both a challenge and an opportunity for school leaders.”

Next, we offered three concrete strategies to help improve Communication at the beginning of the year:

  1. Communication Tool Roundup and Analysis
  2. Poll Families – Early
  3. Set Clear Communication Expectations and Provide Support for All Staff

Watch this clip to hear Possip Reporting Lead and former principal, Amanda Richards, explain some ideas to bolster skills and support staff:


Additional Communication Resources

  1. Click this link and follow the instructions to create your own Communication Tool Roundup.
  2. Here are more tried and true tips and tools that will save you time in the upcoming year! 

Top Trend #2: Car Line and Transportation

Following communication, families express the most questions and concerns about how their child will safely enter and exit the building. Our Possip panel encouraged administrators to consider the perspective of the family members. For example, some families might be spending many hours each day dropping off and picking up their children from school.

To that end, listen to Possip Founder/CEO and parent Shani Dowell explain how district leaders can set the vision of positive car line experiences across different campuses and how parents can help:

Additional Car Line and Transportation Resources

  1. Possip webinar recording, “Making Car Line a Great Experience”. 
  2. Read about more car line and transportation strategies here.

Top Trend #3: School Safety

Then, the Possip panel explore the third top trend on families’ minds at the beginning of the year: school safety and campus security. As Shani shared, making sure your school is seen as responsive and communicative goes a long way toward building trust between families and your staff. 

Additional School Safety Resource

  1. This article gives more detailed ideas for improving communication about school safety. 

Other Top Trends on Families’ Minds

The Possip team shared other top concerns that are shared by families at the beginning of the year, noting that these continue to be voiced throughout the year. Some concerns become more apparent throughout the year. Generally students build relationships with their teachers and schoolmates and their progress is reported through grades and progress reports. So, families’ responses tend to increase in the areas of bullying and discipline and teacher feedback. 

For example, listen as Possip’s VP of Delivery Jennifer Kehl and Reporting Lead and former principal Amanda Richards describe the change in these trends as the year progresses and how to set up your team for success at the beginning of the year.

Engagement Trends as the Year Progresses

The panelists noted that administrators can capitalize on family excitement at the beginning of the year.  Amanda encouraged leaders to think critically about what expectations they want to set and how they will communicate those expectations through multiple avenues. As the semester progresses, Possip typically sees family engagement dip through the first semester. Finally, during the fall and winter holidays engagement increases and then stabilizes through the rest of the year.

Things to Remember

Finally, the panel concluded with four takeaways: 

  1. Start communication early and often: 7x Rule – It’s been proven that it takes a person receiving information seven times before it sinks in!
  2. Enlist families and teachers to practice car lines and other procedures: Remember to think through the perspective of a family member and what they might wonder. 
  3. Keep feedback loops open: Families often share brilliant insights into what is working and how to improve. Possip is happy to help you gather and analyze that information!
  4. Have fun! At the beginning of the year, your families are excited and nervous and grateful for you and your team’s efforts to help their children grow and learn. Lean into that excitement and have fun. 

The Possip team is excited to continue sharing insights. We are here to help you have the best year yet!