A closer examination of the data reveals that urban parents said they receive more communications through automated phone messages than rural parents reported (52 percent versus 44 percent). Grade levels varied as well: Two-thirds of elementary school parents said face-to-face meetings were their most common form of communication with their child’s school, whereas only 45 percent of middle school parents and 39 percent of high school parents said the same. Fifty-six percent of parents with children in grades 6-12 said their child’s school portal their preferred method for receiving information about their child’s school activities and academic performance.

Research also shows that school portals have become more and more popular. In fact, since 2007, the number of parents using school portals for information about their children has jumped 58 percent.

Do parents have different expectations today regarding information they receive from their child’s school?

Many of the school technology coordinators who participated in the survey said they are able to give parents a more complete picture of each student’s education, including attendance, homework assignments, grades, and general information about school events.

Parents said their ultimate school portal would include:

  • Information updated on a daily basis about their child’s homework assignments, projects, and upcoming tests (62 percent);
  • Information updated on a daily basis about their child’s grades and progress in school (53 percent);
  • Ability to send out a special alert to me when my child is missing assignments, has low grades, or is failing a class (51 percent);
  • Tools to help facilitate greater collaboration and communication between the parent, child, and teacher (32 percent);
  • Tools to help the parent assess the child’s achievement levels (27 percent).

How are teachers leveraging technology tools to instruct and provide feedback to students?

Ninety-six percent of teachers said they use eMail, instant messaging, or text messages to communicate with their colleagues and students’ parents. But some teachers (about 33 percent) said they are using these same technologies to communicate with students as well. Thirty-eight percent said they use technology to give students academic feedback.

While many note that young teachers are often most comfortable integrating technology into the classroom as a result of their own familiarity with technology, teachers with fewer than three years of classroom experience are actually the least likely group of teachers (fewer than 9 percent) to use these technology tools to interact with students. More than 37 percent of teachers with 16 or more years of experience use these communication tools to give students feedback.

Seventy-four percent of high school students and 65 percent of middle school students use eMail, instant messaging, or text messaging on a regular basis for peer-to-peer communication, but fewer than half of students in grades 9-12, and only 25 percent of middle school students, say they use the same methods to communicate with their teachers.

Girls are more likely than boys to report eMailing or text messaging a teacher (59 percent versus 41 percent).

As mobile devices grow in popularity and accessibility, teacher communications can improve, the report suggests.