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#DataCafe: Measuring Parent Engagement - Shared Domains Part 1

January 25, 2019

by Soojin Min, Vital Village Network


Remember that the Learning Community collectively came up with shared measurable domains during the symposium in Denver, CO back in October? Now, the questions is - how do we measure those domains? Let’s look into the first topic, parent engagement.

Data on parent engagement can be collected not only from parents but also from other individuals interacting with parents, including program staff, home visitors, or teachers. Through surveys or interviews, we can ask questions, collect responses, and draw conclusions based on the collected information (i.e. measure the domains above). Measurable domains of parent participation can be categorized the topics into participating process and the results of participation. The participating process can be defined as participating activities. If we are interested in measuring parents' level of participation, there are a number of different ways to define the levels:

  • Participation frequency (further, frequency by type of activity)

  • Participation defined by different roles (e.g. supporting role - decision making role - leadership role)

The results of participation highlight what happens as a result of participation. Measuring questions in each domain could vary depending on a topic of interest. Here are some example measuring questions.

Questions to measure parent decision making could also vary depending on the types of decisions we are interested in. In addition to what decision a parent has made, we may want to know why and how this parent has arrived at that decision. One approach could be thinking about contributing factors to making a decision. As seen below (Figure 1), a parent may seek relevant information and evaluate alternatives before making a decision. We could try to identify the information and its source that may have influenced a parent’s decision making process. For example, if our focus is a decision on enrollment in a program, we could ask, “How did you learn about program A? Did someone suggest program A to you, or did you decide to enroll on your own?”

Figure 1. Parent Decision Making Process

This example survey could give us an idea what types of questions can be asked to measure parent participation and decision making. This survey is about parent involvement in schools.

  • Parent participation-process:

- Participation frequency (Q5, Q16, Q18, Q22, Q27)

- Participating degree defined by different roles (Q28+29, Q30+31, Q32, Q33)


  • Parent participation-results:

- Parent feedback on the participating events (Q6-8, Q10-14, Q17, Q19-20, Q30, Q34, Q37)


  • Decision making process

- Information relevant to decision making (Q33)

- Why a parent has made a certain decision (Q9, Q23)


Hope this post is helpful for thinking about measuring parent engagement. We will continue our discussion on our shared measurable domains - funding growth.


Lastly, we would like to share a community story about a parent-led movement to reduce the early-learning gap through parent engagement:

Together, Parents Boost Their Children’s Early Learning



*The cover image is from the NYT article linked above.

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