Methods: This study is part of a multi-phase partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools to develop a parent engagement measure relevant for districts serving large populations of low-income families. Following content analyses of individual interviews with 63 parents, school staff, district leaders, and community leaders, the researchers identified 106 potential parent engagement items which were then evaluated using a Delphi procedure. Ten consultants (4 school staff, 2 researchers, 4 parents) with expertise in parent engagement rated items on 3 dimensions: (1) relevance to children’s academic success, (2) feasibility for most/all parents to do, and (3) ability of schools to change the behavior (its “actionability”). After round 1, items scoring lowest on relevance to academic success were dropped, those scoring highest on relevance were retained, and remaining items were rated again by consultants. Final item selection was guided by feasibility and actionability of those items ranked as highly relevant to academic success by >70% of consultants.
Results: Following two rounds of review, 62 of 106 items were ranked as highly relevant to academic success. Only 14 of them were also ranked by >70% of consultants as feasible for most parents and actionable for schools. Following additional discussion with consultants, 16 highly relevant items that had been ranked lower on feasibility or actionability were recommended for inclusion (final n=30 items). Nearly all school-based parent engagement items (e.g., volunteering) were eliminated by consultants based on their low scores; items retained focused primarily on home-based activities and home-school communication.
Conclusions: Results have implications for efforts to measure and promote parent engagement in early childhood education among low-income families using surveys that are meaningful to parents and schools.