Many parents said a school's online portal helps them stay on top of their child's academic progress.

A new report has identified key trends and issues when it comes to how teachers, parents, and students communicate, and it indicates that the growing prevalence of mobile devices could help improve communication among these stakeholder groups.

Connecting in the 21st Century,” a report from Project Tomorrow and Blackboard Inc., based on data from Project Tomorrow’s 2010 Speak Up survey, reveals new information about the way parents, students, and teachers communicate with one another. It identifies as a key trend the “growing need for more effective, timely, and targeted communication between the school and home.”

The report examines Speak Up 2010 data from nearly 380,000 K-12 students, parents, and educators to reveal parents’ expectations for school-to-home communications, and to learn how districts are striving to meet those expectations.

Some schools and districts are turning to new technology to engage parents not only in school safety and emergency messaging, but also in their children’s performance and achievement.

Do administrators recognize the value of effective communication with parents as a key factor for improving student outcomes?

Many administrators said they are hoping to use online and social media tools to better engage with parents in an effort to enhance student achievement.

Twenty-three percent of administrators said that “engaging parents as co-teachers” was one of their top three choices when it came to identifying solutions that would have the greatest potential to increase students’ college attendance and career readiness.

How are schools and districts tapping into emerging technologies to connect with parents?

Many schools are taking advantage of parents’ growing familiarity with and use of technology, including mobile devices. These schools are modifying their communication approaches to build stronger school-to-home connections, the report suggests.

The top five ways that parents currently receive communications from their child’s school are personal eMails (64 percent), face-to-face meetings (53 percent), printed newsletters and fliers (52 percent), a school portal (51 percent), and automated phone messages (46 percent).