As you plan your program’s Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) efforts, Parent Gauge will prove to be a powerful tool in PFCE data collection and analysis. As a Parent Gauge user, one of the first steps in integrating Parent Gauge throughout your program year is determining your Parent Gauge calendar. This includes planning what interview types work best for your program, when they should occur, and how often they should take place.


Interviews are the heart of Parent Gauge – this is where direct service workers have a chance to connect with parents and caretakers to assess a family’s strengths, strengthen the parent/provider relationship, and gain feedback on current PFCE goals. Interviews are typically conducted one on one between a teacher or family service worker and a parent. The interviewer will ask the parent approximately 25 close-ended questions and 10 open-ended questions. A typical Parent Gauge interview will take about 35 minutes on average.

In most cases, a program will interview all parents but sometimes a program may choose to only interview a sample of parents. For example, interviewing just 10% of the enrolled families to approximate the strengths and opportunities for all families in the program. Typically this will be done when it isn’t feasible to interview all or most parents.

Interview Seasons

Interview Seasons refer to interview sessions conducted at specific points of the program year, similar to the fall-winter-spring assessment cycles that many programs do for children’s development. Parent Gauge users can have up to three interview seasons:

Initial – Initial interviews are typically done at the very beginning of the program year, sometimes even at enrollment, and are done to capture a family’s perceived strengths prior to a program’s impact. These interviews will only include the parent-focused questions, not the program follow up questions. Some programs only conduct initial interviews with families brand new to the program.

Mid-Year – A mid-year interview is typically done between 2 months into the program year and up to 2 months from the end of the program year, when a family has had enough experience with the program to rate its efforts. These interviews will include both the parent and program questions. Not only will we ask and see results of parent’s strengths but also how they perceive the program impacted those strengths.

Post – A post interview is typically done within the last 2 months of the program year. This interview will ask the same coupleted questions as the mid in an attempt to gather strengths and the program’s impact by the end of the school year to determine whether growth was made in targeted areas.

Determining Which Interview Seasons Are Right For Your Program

All three interview seasons are valuable and can be conducted throughout the school year. However, many programs tailor the timing and frequency of interview seasons to their specific program needs with the most common program conducting two interview seasons a program year. Let’s review the possible options for interview seasons.

Three Interviews a Year (Initial/Mid/Post)

  • Initial interview season – Enrollment-First 2 months of program year. This interview will consist of parent questions only and gauge the strengths parents are walking into the program already mastering.
  • Mid interview season – After 2 months into the program year. Both parent and program questions are asked during the interview sessions to identify how parent strengths have grown and their perception of program impacts on those strengths. Program results can be used to shape PFCE focuses for the rest of the school year.
  • Post interview season – Final months of program year. The final assessment will ask the same questions as the mid-year interview, measuring the impact from the identified focus areas and how well parents felt those impacts from the program directly. Growth reports can be evaluated to measure how responses changed from one season to the end of the year.

Two Interviews in a Program Year (Mid/Post)

  • Mid interview season – Conducted at least 2 months into the program year and up to 2 months from the end of the year. Mid year evaluations are often chosen over an initial interview to allow parents to respond to program impact questions. Parents rank their strengths and opportunities, the program shapes resources, curriculum, and parent nights around the feedback from these topics.
  • Post interview season – Conducted at end of year. Final assessment will ask the same questions as the mid-year interview and will help us see if parents grew in those areas and felt the program’s efforts. 

Most commonly, the mid and post are going to be the two sessions that make the most sense to incorporate into your program. Initial interview seasons can be combined with a mid or post interview. However, in an initial interview, parents are asked only parent specific questions and not the program questions. As such, comparison could only be made between the parent specific questions and no growth could be measured on the program specific questions within the program year.

One Interview a Program Year (Mid)

In some cases, you may not have the ability to conduct multiple interview seasons. In those cases, conducting just a mid-year interview is most common. 

  • Mid interview season – Conducted anytime after 2 months into the school year. A mid year interview can occur almost anytime after a family has a few months of experience with the program. This would capture a family’s self reported strengths as well as how they feel the program has encouraged those strengths while having enough time to act on the results. This can be used to inform resources and report back on PFCE engagement efforts. You would not be able to measure growth within the program year but you could track year to year growth for your program.

An initial interview season only would not ask valuable program impact questions.

A Post interview session only would ask the same questions as the mid but not allow for enough time to make decisions for the current program year based on that feedback.

Other Considerations:

  • Traditional 9 month school year or year round – This will impact the amount of time you have for interview seasons as well as the time frames available for interview seasons
  • Other assessments – Often multiple assessments are done during one interview season and this can help determine which can be conducted together
  • Bandwidth – How much time does my program staff 
  • Demographics – Are there new staff that could use built in check ins? Are there a lot of new students that we want to make sure go through an initial interview?
  • Analysis Needs – What kind of growth do you need to measure? To measure growth within a year, at least 2 interview seasons must occur.  Knowing your specific analysis needs will help decide the frequency and timing of your program’s interview sessions.

Our user data shows the most popular interview seasons occur in the following months:

  • Initial – October
  • Mid – November
  • Post – May

Parent Gauge is your tool and you have the ability to determine which seasons are best for your program. Determining which seasons to conduct interviews depends on the kinds of data results you’d like to see as well as how you’ll be using those data results. In many cases, your program may look at where your current touchpoints are with parents now and how we can incorporate and simplify efforts by using Parent Gauge.

For questions, email

Victoria Jones

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