Schools want to measure how engaged and involved their parents are.  They should!

Parent engagement is a key lever for a great school. Yet parent engagement often gets reduced to a single measure: PTO or parent-teacher meeting attendance.  While these are an indicator,  others can be equally powerful. 

So what else can help you measure your school parent involvement?

  • Event attendance  Which event has the most parents attending?  What percent of parents are represented at that event?  Include sports games, art shows, choir performances.  Any activity bringing parents in to celebrate accomplishments of kids at your school deserves measurement.
  • Measure parent engagement outside of the 4 walls Give parents chances to engage outside of the 4 walls of the building – signing their kids’ homework or a school weekly newsletter or their tests. What percent of parents sign these items?  Ask for volunteers to do things like sharpen pencils at home, write notes to teachers, or participate in a phone bank.  How many parents sign up for ongoing opportunities?
  • Parent feedback  Possip schools give parents a regular opportunity to share parent feedback.  And whether parents are sharing feedback or praise, one word or one hundred words, their response demonstrates engagement.  Schools can use Possip and track what percent of parents are responding.
  • Daily student attendance If parents are working to get their kids to school every day that is an indicator of their engagement. Not only is attendance something to track relative to parent engagement, it is also something to celebrate!
  • Depth of engagement Even if only a small subset of parents are involved in activities like the PTO, how deep is their commitment?  Have you unleashed a deep level of engagement across a subset of parents?  What are the overall number of hours parents are committing to or volunteering to your school?
  • Enrollment  Which direction is your enrollment going?  If your enrollment is decreasing that may be a sign you have a disengaged parent population.  If enrollment is increasing it is a likely sign that your parents are engaged and may even be encouraging others to attend.

Parent participation in a school organization is undoubtedly valuable. PTO involvement at my kids’ school is one of my greatest joys. Yet it is a single measure – and when we focus only on that one we miss so many other ways parents are showing us they are engaged – or not engaged.

So if you have small PTO meeting attendance, relax!  Look for other indicators of parent engagement. 

And if all indicators point to disengaged parents, then you have information.  And an opportunity to make some changes. 

Look out for a future blog where we’ll share information about how to engage a disengaged parent population – or better channel a hyper engaged one.