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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Evaluating Family Engagement Strategies: Addressing Measurement Challenges

Webinar date: August 18, 2011, 2:00–3:30 p.m. (EDT)

Evaluating family engagement strategies to demonstrate their impact on student learning is essential for strengthening practice, and is becoming an increasingly important factor in securing program funding. Yet evaluation in this field is still in a developmental phase, and there are few clear guidelines available for identifying meaningful indicators of successful family engagement efforts.

This webinar will highlight promising approaches for evaluating family engagement strategies, address challenges in defining and measuring outcomes, and provide guidance for building evaluation into a family engagement plan from the beginning. By defining measurable objectives early in the planning process, it becomes possible to connect family engagement efforts to important milestones—such as increases in parents’ understanding of how to support learning at home—as well as the ultimate goal of increased student achievement.

Evaluating Family Engagement Strategies will be presented through a roundtable discussion among evaluation experts and will address questions such as:

  • What are some meaningful indicators of effective family engagement strategies?
  • What role does evaluation play in supporting the sustainability of family engagement efforts?
  • What roles do parents, school staff, and other stakeholders play in these evaluation efforts?
  • How would robust, ongoing evaluations help advance the family engagement field?

The roundtable format allowed time to address questions and comments from the webinar audience. And, for the first time in this webinar series, we invited the audience to submit questions in advance. We received some very thoughtful and compelling questions! Due to time constraints, we were able to address only a few, but send thanks to all those who contributed.

Featured panelists include:

  • Moderator: Heather Weiss, Founder and Director, Harvard Family Research Project
  • Rebecca Maynard, Commissioner, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), U.S. Department of Education
  • Kate Gill Kressley, Senior Research Associate, RMC Research Corporation
  • Eric Dearing, Associate Professor of Applied Developmental Psychology, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
  • Amy Aparicio Clark, Project Director, Education Development Center, Inc.
  • Kathleen Hoover-Dempsey, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education, Vanderbilt University


Framing Quality Evaluation

Evaluation Approaches and Tools

Evaluation to Promote Scale and Sustainability

  • Rethinking scale: Moving Beyond Numbers to Deep and Lasting Change (Educational Researcher, 2003)
    This article defines a new way of thinking about “scale” in education reform. By looking at scale through the lens of four interrelated dimensions—depth, sustainability, spread, and shift in reform ownership—researchers can better inform policymakers as they craft reform strategies.

  • Disseminating Orphan Innovations (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2011)
    This article explores why some social innovations that achieve excellent results in one location are not easy to replicate in others. Written by a team that found success taking one initiative to scale, the article offers insight into how customizing innovations to new circumstances —versus replicating the original initiative—can make all the difference.

  • Evaluation’s Role in Supporting Initiative Sustainability (Harvard Family Research Project, 2002)
    This paper offers ideas for how evaluation can ensure that a discussion about sustainability is started early and is maintained throughout an initiative.

  • Why Do Parents Become Involved? Research Findings and Implications (Elementary School Journal, 2005)
    This literature review examines what variables can influence a parent’s decision to become involved in their child’s education. These indicators can help schools and other organizations create the conditions for increased family engagement.


© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project