One strategy Minneapolis Public Schools employs is to empower parents from non-dominant cultures to lead evaluation efforts. Fifty one trained Parent Evaluators gather input from families who may be less inclined to share their perspectives with the school district. The Parent Evaluators then share their findings with the district and have opportunities to identify possible solutions for improvement that best reflect the priorities of the community.
The Minneapolis School District (MPS) is committed to equity and believes that “Every student deserves equitable access to quality academic programs and support to be successful, regardless of race, economic status or circumstance.” Fifty one parents, representing five culturally-specific groups: 9 African American, 9 American Indian, 9 Hispanic/Latino, 10 Hmong, and 14 Somali parents, have been identified to lead the evaluation efforts. Two MPS Divisions — Accountability, Research & Equity and Engagement & External Relations — partnered with the Parent Evaluators in designing a culturally-relevant data collection process. Parent Evaluators play a significant role in outreach, data collection and reporting, and identifying solutions for improvement. According to Eric Moore, Chief of Accountability Research and Equity, evaluation has become a family engagement strategy. Parents Evaluators are valued and provided stipends for their services.
Parent Evaluators received training on three data collection methods—surveys, focus groups, and participatory methods (such as sticker voting or a graffiti wall). All Parent Evaluators were tasked with using their data collection design to understand MPS families' perspectives on the question, "How can a school value and respect your child for who they are?" This question was identified by MPS leadership to support the District as it develops plans to achieve two of its strategic priorities: Social Emotional Learning and Equity.
Findings from the evaluation were organized according to themes and recommendations were compiled into a parent friendly report. MPS brought district representatives and Parent Educators together for a celebration and presentations. A video of the celebration and presentations can be found at: https://rea.mpls.k12.mn.us/parent_participatory_evaluation. MPS is using information from this process to inform policies, practices, procedures, programs, and budgets. For example, MPS allocated more funding for translation services in the 2019-2020 budget.
For information about the MPS equity framework and priority areas of focus, visit: https://mpls.k12.mn.us/equity_framework.