Educational leadership preparation programs are currently engaged in formative and summative evaluation of their candidates and graduates for a variety of purposes and uses. These include:
- Provide relevant and timely information on graduates and alumni outcomes to ascertain program effectiveness
- Compare groups of graduates’ experiences to determine benefits of program differences
- Compare program features and delivery type with other programs regionally and nationally for benchmarking
- Identify areas for program and course improvement
- Make the case for program resources and support
- Research the relationship between program design and delivery, graduate outcomes, and school improvement work
Each program is guided by its own theory of action or program theory which connects its choices in program content, delivery, and design to expected outcomes. Weiss (1988) defines program theory as “the set of beliefs that underlie action” (p. 55) and explains that these represent the mechanisms that mediate between delivery of a program and the intended outcomes (Weiss, 1998). In planning for evaluation, program officials, therefore, will need to determine both the outcomes they expect as well as the attributes of the program they think are most influential.