Involving the Community in Assessment

We recently underwent a program review. I was surprised that parents and community members who were interviewed by the evaluation team said that they were uncertain about the impact our laptop program has had on our students’ performance. We have included updates about this in the school newsletter. What else could we have done to insure that they were able to answer this important question?

We almost always think to include parents and other members of the community in the initial planning process. However, their involvement in program evaluation is often limited to completing a survey, participating in a focus group, or receipt of a newsletter that may not be read.

It’s important for these stakeholders to assume a more active role in determining the level of success of an initiative such as your laptop program. This can be accomplished by inviting representatives to participate on the committee that reviews the results of the data collected and writes evaluation reports. These representatives may also assume some responsibility for communicating the committee’s findings to parent and community groups through meetings, newsletters, etc. It’s also a good idea to include these committee members on the list of interviewees during your next program review.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young