Approach to evaluation

Our goal is to develop innovative tools and supports that will help make evaluation more realistic and relevant for PLIs. To do this:

  • We prioritize the experiences, needs, and priorities of parent leadership initiatives but also balance them with the priorities of other important audiences, such as funders and policy-makers;
  • We facilitate learning communities of PLIs, evaluators, and other stakeholders that will continue to advance evaluation knowledge and practice;
  • We acknowledge the time and capacity constraints facing PLIs.

To reflect what we’ve learned from PLIs, we use the following guidelines:

  • We embrace theory-based, developmental approaches to evaluation. Developmental approaches assure that PLIs are constantly learning from evaluation and improving.
  • We favor participatory approaches, while building on what’s already been done. Participatory approaches ensure that parent leaders and PLI staff, who are seldom regarded as experts despite their experience, are engaged in the evaluation process.
  • We encourage qualitative, narrative data collection methods (e.g. stories, interviews, observations) but also balance them with appropriate quantitative approaches (e.g. surveys of parent leaders and alumni).
  • We help PLIs build their own evaluation capacity and make evaluation more feasible. Evaluation is expensive and time consuming. PLIs operate with limited budgets, staff members who are already stretched thin, and parent leaders who are volunteering their time. Real investment in evaluation capacity building and networks is crucial.