There is a deeply held belief that parent engagement has a positive impact on student performance (a summary of some of the research and a bibliography can be found here). Schools are increasingly looking for effective ways to engage with parents. What's more school and district leaders want to know whether their efforts are working. Leaders also want to understand where they might invest to improve engagement. The Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) describes three pathways that combine to encourage ongoing and interactive family involvement:
First, family involvement is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.
Second, family involvement is continuous across a child’s life and entails an enduring commitment but changing parent roles as children mature from birth to young adulthood.
Third, effective family involvement cuts across and reinforces learning in the multiple settings where children learn—at home, in prekindergarten programs, in school, in after school programs, in faith-based institutions, and in the community.
HFRP compiled a list of data collection instruments designed to assess family involvement from multiple perspectives, including those of families, educators, and children. Designed to help assess a variety of family involvement practices, programs, and initiatives, the instruments included in this resource focus on family involvement in learning, including family–school communication and relationships, families’ encouragement of learning in the home, and families’ feelings of self-efficacy. Another list of instruments used to measure parent engagement can be found here.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education also developed a tool for this purpose called the "Harvard Graduate School of Education Pre K-12 Parent Survey" (not a super creative name, but you know exactly what's its purpose is). The survey was released in partnership with SurveyMonkey and is available under education templates.
Even if we have time to deploy a survey like this we rarely have the time to make making with the results. Information from surveys often languishes in Excel or remains trapped in SurveyMonkey. In an attempt to make these data more actionable I have developed a simple dashboard interface so any user (teacher, parent, or member of the public) can rapidly make meaning with these data. My goal with this dashboard is to help schools and districts leverage data to make better decisions. This user-friendly interface eliminates the challenge of cleaning, organizing, and visualizing the information so you can get right down to analyzing and engaging. Regardless of which instrument you chose to use in analyzing your school-parent relationships, make a commitment to put the data in a format that will be usable for analysis.
Check out the example dashboard displayed below. The data are demonstration data, but you will get a feel of how easy it is to analyze and understand the data from this survey.