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Family Engagement Strategies that Work: A Gap Model Analysis

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

At The Leadership Program we provide over 700 workshops and activities for the families and communities that we serve, and since family engagement is a universal challenge for schools and youth serving organizations, we are continuously examining and re-examining what we’re offering, and how.

Some years back our evaluation team recommended that we utilize a “gap model analysis” tool for these reflections, and we’ve found it to be a helpful guide in where we are versus where we should be.

The tool we use looks at three categories:

  1. School Connectedness
  2. Family Literacy Skills/Knowledge
  3. Family Attendance

Then, with each of those categories we examine the following:

  1. What is the goal?
    1. What would we consider success?
    2. What would the school consider success?
    3. At the end of the year, what would we hope will have happened?
  2. What are our current approaches?
    1. What content are we offering?
    2. What are our current recruitment strategies?
    3. How are we communicating with the school and the community?
    4. Who on our staff is implementing services?
  3. What is our current performance?
    1. In short, how are we doing?
    2. Are our families attending our events?
    3. Are our families gaining skills and knowledge?
    4. Do our families feel connected to the school?
  4. How do we close the gap between our goal and our current performance?
    1. What can we change about our current approaches in order to get more parents to attend our events?
    2. What different types of content can we offer to engage our families?
    3. How can we help the families feel more connected to school?
    4. Are we offering things at the right time and on the right days?
    5. What outside-of-the-box programming might we offer?
    6. Where else can we advertise about and recruit for our programming?
    7. What do our parents and families need, and how can we offer it to them?
    8. Who else in the community might we partner with to help us achieve success?
    9. What other stakeholders might we be missing out on?
    10. How can our students help us engage our families?

Taking the time, a few times each year, to reflect on our parent engagement strategies utilizing this gap model analysis tool helps keep us from getting complacent in our programming and increases our likeliness of achieving our end of year goals.

What tools and resources do you use to internally reflect on, and evaluate, your parent engagement programming? We’d love to hear about it! Don’t have tools of your own? Please take ours—and remember to tell us how it goes. 



"Family Engagement Strategies that Work: A Gap Model Analysis", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.