The motivation for this paper is to present an approach for rating the quality of the parameters in a computer-aided design model for use as optimization variables. Parametric Effectiveness is computed as the ratio of change in performance achieved by perturbing the parameters in the optimum way, to the change in performance that would be achieved by allowing the boundary of the model to move without the constraint on shape change enforced by the CAD parameterization. The approach is applied in this paper to optimization based on adjoint shape sensitivity analyses. The derivation of parametric effectiveness is presented for optimization both with and without the constraint of constant volume. In both cases, the movement of the boundary is normalized with respect to a small root mean squared movement of the boundary. The approach can be used to select an initial search direction in parameter space, or to select sets of model parameters which have the greatest ability to improve model performance. The approach is applied to a number of example 2D and 3D FEA and CFD problems.