Tracking Progress Database: Standardized Measures to Assess Family Engagement Efforts and Effects
Explore this database to find standardized measures related to family engagement, family well-being, and family progress toward outcomes. Leaders can select measures based on areas of inquiry in your program to assess family needs or program progress in family engagement efforts.
Information collected with these measures can be used to:
- Inform program planning
- Evaluate program activities and progress
- Examine the relationships between parents and staff
- Understand the strengths, interests, and needs of individual families or the families that your program serves as a group
- Understand and improve family well-being and other outcomes
- Support continuous learning and quality improvement in accordance with Head Start Program Performance Standard (HSPPS) 45 CFR §1302.102
This resource is divided into three primary components:
- At-a-Glance Database: The database provides an overview of each measure with basic background information, including how the measure aligns with the Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework. The measures are organized by area of focus and may align with Program Elements, Family Outcomes, or both.
- Detailed profiles: A detailed profile for each measure has additional information to assist programs in selecting measures that are the best fit for their goals. A link to each profile is provided in the last column of the database.
- Glossary of Terms: The glossary defines terms common to research and assessment, such as those related to reliability and validity of measures.
The database provides an overview of 32 standardized measures that can be used to collect a range of information related to family engagement. The database includes basic background information, including how the measure aligns with the PFCE Framework. The measures are organized by area of focus and may align with Program Elements, Family Outcomes, or both.
A detailed profile for each measure has additional information to help programs select measures that are the best fit for their goals. A link to each profile is provided in the last column of the database.
Most measures included in this collection are free and publicly available. All measures have been widely used and validated through measurement research. Although this is a thorough list, it is not exhaustive. Programs may also consider using other standardized measures or measurement tools to assess family engagement activities and family outcomes.
Considerations for Selecting and Using Standardized Measures
As you consider measures for your program, think about the alignment between program goals and the areas of focus for each measure. Only some measures may be relevant to your program's engagement activities or the family outcomes that your program would like to examine.
Some measures collect sensitive information about risk and adversity, such as mental health and substance use issues, resource constraints, or family conflict. These measures may not be appropriate to administer with all families and within all programs. Before administering sensitive measures, consider whether your program has a plan to support families and access to resources for families who may need services.
Explore the resource, Measuring What Matters: Using Data to Support Family Progress, to find four data activities to develop a cycle of continuous learning and improvement to measure program efforts, program progress, and family outcomes:
- Preparing and planning systematically
- Collecting family-related data
- Aggregating and analyzing the information collected
- Using and sharing the results
Suggested Steps for Using Measures:
- Ask yourself:
- What does your program want to achieve in terms of family engagement?
- What provider efforts are most important to help reach your program's goals?
- What family outcomes are most important to help reach your program's goals?
- What does your program want to know about families' strengths, interests, and needs?
- Consider one or more measures of interest from the database that align with your program goals and the information that your program is interested in collecting.
- Review measure profiles to refine selections.
- After selecting the measure, review the user's manual, if one is available.
- Develop a measurement plan. Use Measuring What Matters: Using Data to Support Family Progress as a guide.
A few additional steps in the planning phase will ensure that a measure you might use meets program interests and goals.
- Consider the type of measure to ensure that it aligns with your program's capacity to collect data. This resource contains several types of measures:
- Screening measures: These are usually short (five–10 minutes) and easy to administer.
- Surveys: These can be short or long (up to 30 minutes).
- Observational tools: These are longer to administer (up to one hour), usually require training, and may need to be done during home visits or when working directly with parents.
- Consider the respondents who will need to complete the measures.
- Some measures require parents to complete items, others require program staff to complete the items, and some require both staff and parents to complete items.
- Ensure that selected measures are available in the language spoken by families in your program. Consider whether they respect the cultures of families in your program. Measure profiles include details about the languages in which each measure is available.
- Consider when you should collect data and develop a schedule for data collection.
- Measures that are used to determine progress should be collected multiple times during the year, such as the beginning of the year, before beginning a new initiative, and at the end of the year.
- Measures that are used to screen for family strengths, needs, or adversity may only need to be used at one point in time with specific families.
- Consider how your program will collect the information from respondents based on what works best for both your program and the respondents.
- Paper or online formats can be used.
- Surveys can be administered during staff or parent meetings to make data collection less burdensome.
- Parent interviewing may be needed, in cases where parents may need literacy supports.
- Consider how to use data to inform programming.
- Data about program-wide efforts and effects can be aggregated and analyzed to inform five-year program planning and allow programs to assess progress toward goals in the short and long term.
- Data about program staff can identify strengths or areas of opportunity for professional and programming development.
- Data about families can offer insights about opportunities for community partnerships and programming enhancements to support parents in achieving their goals.
- In general, data can be used to track program progress in meeting both program and family outcome goals.
Special Note About Assessing Family Progress Related to Adversity
Some measures included in the database focus on families' strengths and the supports available to them. Others assess whether the family has access to resources, social supports, and material goods to meet basic needs. A third category of measures assesses whether individuals or families are facing specific adversities, such as substance use and mental health issues.
Measures that focus on challenges and sensitive needs allow programs to screen for risk and adversities that indicate that families may need extra support and intervention services. Programs should only screen for risk and adversities if they have systems in place to help families address those specific service needs. By necessity, questions asked in measures in these risk and adversity categories may not align with the strengths-based language commonly used in successful family engagement practices. Asking specific questions about adversity is sometimes the best and only way to assess need. Also, many of these measures ask about a continuum of behaviors, rather than about only abuse or misuse. The measures of alcohol use are examples of this type of continuum of behaviors that span from use to misuse.
Finally, some of the standardized measures in this compilation address family involvement as well as family engagement. While either term may be used, the constructs of family engagement still apply. A description of each measure's alignment with the PFCE Framework is noted as clarification of its applicability to the family engagement work.
Glossary of Research Terms
The glossary defines terms common to research and assessment, such as those related to reliability and validity of measures. For additional information about research terms explore the following resources:
Background and Process of Identifying Measures
The measures were compiled for this resource from a thorough scan of available measures.
- Each measure was carefully reviewed to determine if they met standards for inclusion.
- Measures were identified that have been shown to be reliable and valid, easily accessible, and well-used in Head Start and Early Head Start programs.
- All measures were identified using a systematic and objective process.
Inclusion in the database should not be seen as an endorsement by the Office of Head Start or the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement. This compilation is intended to assist programs in understanding measures that could be used to improve different aspects of program efforts related to family engagement and family well-being. The measures listed in the database have been pre-screened for relevance but are not exhaustive lists. Programs seeking to assess progress on goals related to family engagement or family well-being are urged to research a variety of measures, considering their own program strengths, needs, and interests. Programs should also carefully examine developer claims before choosing a measure.
Review Process: Search Terms
To identify and review the measurement tools, we conducted a scan using the following search engines and databases: Google Scholar, Academic Search Complete, PsychINFO, and ERIC. A combination of one or more of the terms from each of the three categories below were used for each query until all combinations were exhausted.
- "Parent involvement," "parent engagement," "family involvement," "family engagement," "family partnership," "parent-provider relationship," "parent-family relationship," "parent-teacher relationship," "family-teacher relationship," "program environment," "teaching and learning," "community partnerships," "access and continuity"
- "Measure," "tool," "assessment," "scale"
- "Child care" or "Head Start" or "pre-kindergarten" or "early childhood education" or "early care" or "preschool" or "pre-k" OR "child care" or "prekindergarten" or "day care" or "early childhood program" or "QRIS" or "Quality rating and improvement system" or "home visiting"
We expanded the scope of the scan to ensure a comprehensive search for measurement tools. Specifically, we conducted targeted reviews of the Compendium of Parenting Interventions as well as the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Compendium of Measurement Tools.
Review Process: Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria
A team of independent reviewers conducted a scan of available measures related to family progress toward the outcomes listed in the PFCE Framework. The measures were carefully reviewed to determine if they met criteria for inclusion. Measurement tools that have proven to be reliable and valid measures of key program impacts, positive goal-oriented relationships, and family outcomes from the PFCE Framework were included. Many of the measures have been used in research and clinical practice for a number of years; they have been proven to ask relevant questions, be effective in measuring specific topics, and are currently in use. Some of the included measures are surveys or self-administered tools, while others are conducted by observation or structured interviews. Many have also been successfully used in Head Start, Early Head Start, and other early childhood programs.
Measurement tools were included if they met the following criteria:
- Designed to track the efforts of early care and education staff to engage and partner with families, or efforts to help families advance toward those goals, or family progress toward their goals.
- Align with one or more of the program elements or family outcomes outlined in the Head Start PFCE Framework.
- Psychometric data demonstrate reliability and/or validity.
- Validated for use in early childhood care settings (e.g., Head Start, other center-based care, family child care, home visiting).
- Designed with a focus on families with children from birth through 6 years of age.
- Practical, usable tools that do not place heavy burden on the respondent or person making sense of the measurement tool results. For example, it can be administered, scored, and results can be understood fairly easily by a staff person at an early care and education program.
- Publicly available for use (e.g., free of charge or fee for use).
Measures were excluded if they:
- Were designed for use outside of the United States or have not been extensively used in the United States
- Were intended for use with families with children that are 6 years or older
- Assessed a topic other than family engagement impacts or outcomes
- Lacked sufficient information that is publicly available about the measure
- Were designed for use exclusively by licensed clinicians
- Were designed to measure the effects of a specific program or assessment
This database has been compiled to assist programs in reviewing and assessing standardized measures of family engagement efforts and effects. The measurement tools listed in this database have been pre-screened for relevance but are not endorsed by the Office of Head Start. The information contained in the database is not an exhaustive list.
Scroll to the right to access the full citation for the measurement tool, as well as links to the tool online. To print or download the lists, right-click on the three dots to the right of "View Only" at the top of the database. Select "Export" and "Export to Microsoft Excel" to download an editable version of the database.
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Last Updated: April 17, 2023