Parent/Teacher Conferences: outdated, unnecessary

February’s record-low attendance shows that Conferences should be a thing of the past


Anne Erehart via Twitter

Members of South’s math department take a dinner break during first semester Parent/Teacher Conferences, Oct. 4.

In the age of technology, where emails and Infinite Campus make keeping tabs on a student’s academic standing ridiculously simple, parent-teacher conferences seem to be a thing of the past. As a result, they should be eliminated; they no longer serve any purpose in a high school setting.

Twice a year, parents of South students drive to school, talk to their children’s teachers, and have personal conferences in which the teacher discusses the attitudes and grades of the students in question.

Ten years ago, this bi-annual tradition held tremendous purpose; since checking grades and contacting educators wasn’t as easy as it is today, conferences served to bridge that gap so that parents could see how their child(ren) was doing in school. This has been well-reflected in attendance over time. In Fall 2006, 5,029 conferences occurred. Only two years later, that number had grown to 5,168. Shortly thereafter, however, that number began to steadily decline. In recent years, educational accessibility has practically eliminated the need for conferences, specifically in high schools. Below, I will explain the issue further and provide my own personal opinion on how to address it.

As stated before, the rapid rise of technology has made checking grades and contacting teachers something you can do easily at home. Infinite Campus, district-provided email addresses, and teacher web pages have all helped bridge the gap between educators and the educated. While this is mostly a good thing, it has also rendered parent-teacher conferences unnecessary.

Furthermore, this point is shown through recent conference attendance. On Feb. 21, South had its least-attended parent-teacher conferences of all time, with only 2,669 total conferences occurring. Compared to Spring 2009’s conferences, numbering 3,965, it is impossible to deny the staggering difference in conference attendance. And this record low is not completely random, either. Data has shown that attendance for these conferences has decreased steadily over time (Spring 2011: 3,798; Spring 2015: 2,871; Spring 2019: 2,669) to a point that, now, there’s really no reason to continue this outdated tradition. Since parents can easily contact their child’s teachers anytime, fewer and fewer people are attending conferences every year.

In relation to this point, conferences are unfair to teachers. While some educators do, in fact, see many parents during conferences, there are many that see next to none. I personally know of one teacher who only met with a total of 12 parents over the five hours of conferences. The rest of the time he was probably wishing he was home with his kids, rather than just sitting in the gym with nothing to do. Teachers stay after school until late into the evening to meet with parents; some even have to find babysitters for while they’re gone. All this effort has to be put in on the teacher’s end, while barely any parents actually come out to meet with them! This is tremendously unfair to the staff at the school, and upon discussing this topic with multiple teachers, I found that this opinion is widespread. Many teachers have also expressed that the parents that do, in fact, attend conferences have high-achieving, straight-A children. In the words of one teacher, most parents usually attend conferences just to “hear how great their kid is.”

To solve this issue, I say that we simply should stop doing parent-teacher conferences. Being twice a year, this practice is redundant; furthermore, with the annual open house held every year, it’s quite unnecessary. It is an outdated event that can easily be replaced through emails and the internet. However, I believe that conferences do hold significance in elementary and even middle schools, as keeping tabs on a child’s behavior is harder to do at this age. While grades can still be checked at these levels, parents of younger children should still have times set to meet with teachers. In high schools, on the other hand, this is not the case. High schoolers should be accountable for their own behavior, and if the teachers or parents have any concerns, they can easily inquire/inform the opposite party.

To conclude, parent-teacher conferences are an outdated event that has been progressively replaced by technology until, now, they serve next to no purpose whatsoever. Conferences should be eliminated because they are unfair to educators, lowly attended, and overall, they’re rather unnecessary.