Statewide Survey of Public School Parents in Idaho

These findings are based on 600 telephone interviews with Idaho parents who have a child who attended public school in grades K-11 during the 2019-2020 school year. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points. The survey was fielded in summer 2020; it was preceded by three virtual focus groups with parents. The purpose of the research was to gain a better understanding of the perspectives of Idaho’s parents about the impact of COVID-19 on their children’s education – the way schools handled the transition to virtual schooling, how much learning took place, and what parents expect when schools reopen in the fall.

The Survey

The survey was fielded between June 17 and July 14, 2020; it included 42 substantive questions. A total of 600 telephone interviews were conducted with a representative cross-section of Idaho parents of public school students in grades K-11. Parents with more than one child in public school were instructed to think about a child in a specific grade between Kindergarten and 11th grade. (High school seniors were excluded because 12th graders would not be returning to public school, and many of the survey questions focused on expectations for the reopening of schools in the fall.)

The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level; the margin of error increases for sub-groups within the sample.

To ensure that a representative sample of parents was interviewed, the study employed a dual-frame landline/cell phone sampling design. Theoretically, this gave essentially every family household in Idaho an equal chance of being selected, including those with unlisted landline numbers and no landline (cell-phone-only households). According to a December 2019 National Health Statistics Report, 72.2 percent of Idaho adults live in wireless-only households.* In this survey, 78% of the telephone interviews were completed on cell phones, and 22% on landlines. The sample for both the cell and landline interviews was targeted to households with children, and in an effort to ensure proportionate representation of both Hispanic parents and lower-income parents, portions of the sample were also targeted to those variables.

* US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Released 12/2019

The final survey data are weighted to population parameters for educational attainment by households in Idaho with children (from National Center for Education Statistics data; see table showing the characteristics of the sample at the end of this methodology).

To minimize non-response bias, interviews were conducted on each day of the week and at different times of the day. If a respondent indicated a better time for the interview, call-backs were made accordingly. Typically, between three and six attempts were made for each unique telephone number in the sample.

The Questionnaire

As in all surveys, non-sampling sources of error may have an impact on survey results. The questionnaire for this study was extensively pre-tested to ensure that the language was accessible and appropriate to parents of public school students in Idaho. Questions were randomized and answer categories rotated in an effort to minimize non-sampling sources of error (order bias). The questionnaire was designed by the FDR Group, and all interpretation of the data reflected in this report was done by the FDR Group.

Sample was obtained from Marketing Systems Group. CATI programming, telephone interviewing, and data collection were provided by the Wiese Research Group located in Omaha, NE.

The Focus Groups

In June 2020, the FDR Group conducted three focus groups with parents of public school children in Idaho; all groups were conducted online and in total 12 parents participated. Participants came from across the state, including Coeur d’Alene (Northern); Ammon, Blackfoot, Bonneville, Rexburg, and Rigby (Eastern); Boise, Meridian, and Nampa (Southwestern); and Jerome (South Central). The participants were recruited to represent the socioeconomic demographics of their respective communities, and they included parents of students from each of the grade bands, people of different races/ethnicities, stay-at-home and working parents. All were mothers. The purpose of the focus group discussions was to gauge understanding of the issues facing parents with regard to their children’s education during the COVID-19 pandemic and the energy these issues tapped. The groups were also useful in testing and developing the survey instrument.

Characteristics of the Sample

The following table compares the demographics of the Idaho population with the weighted and unweighted survey samples. Some categories do not total precisely to 100 percent due to rounding, missing answer categories, or multiple replies accepted.

Gender Population Weighted Unweighted
Male: 50% 41% 42%
Female: 50% 60% 58%
Race/Ethnicity Population Weighted Unweighted
Hispanic: 13% 14% 12%
White: 93% 87% 88%
Black/African American: 1% <1% 1%
Asian: 2% <1% 1%
Native American: 2% 3% 3%
Pacific Islander: <1% 1% 1%
Urbanicity Population Weighted Unweighted
Urban: 66% 65% 68%
Suburban: 30% 28% 26%
Rural: 4% 8% 7%
[Idaho 2018 Population Components by County, U.S. Census Bureau, April 18, 2019]
Region Population Weighted Unweighted
North: 20% 16% 16%
East: 22% 25% 26%
South West: 46% 46% 46%
South Central: 12% 14% 13%
Grade of Student Population Weighted Unweighted
Elementary (K-5): 48% 49% 48%
Middle (6-8): 26% 22% 23%
High (9-11): 25% 30% 29%
[State Department of Education 2019-2020 Midterm Reporting Period, Net Enrollment Schools Report]
Income (households with children) Population Weighted Unweighted
Less than $30K: 7% 10% 8%
$30-LT$50K: 16% 17% 15%
$50-LT$75K: 24% 22% 22%
$75-LT$100K: 16% 21% 23%
$100K+: 36% 28% 32%
[US Census, American Community Survey, Families, TableID B19126 2018]
Education (households with children) Population Weighted Unweighted
Less than high school: 9% 4% 2%
High school graduate: 22% 27% 14%
Some college or trade school, no degree: 25% 23% 26%
Associate’s or 2-year degree: 11% 13% 14%
Bachelor’s or 4-year degree: 23% 21% 28%
Graduate degree: 10% 12% 16%