Skip to Content

Why is program evaluation important for programs that train or support STEM teacher leaders? What is program evaluation?

Building STEM Teacher Leadership

Reflections by the STEM teacher leader community on opportunities and gaps in STEM teacher leader development efforts


Data from evaluations are key to ongoing planning and continuous improvement, as illustrated in the evaluation cycle below.

Evaluation cycle
Source: Corporation for National and Community Service,

Evaluations can provide evidence of impact that can be shared with future participants, the larger education community, policymakers, and funders. Sharing these results can be particularly useful for STEM teacher leader programs, which are still relatively new and have limited previous research on their effectiveness.

By gathering data from teachers on implementation successes and challenges, in addition to evidence of impact, evaluations give teachers a voice and a role in shaping the program, which can increase participant investment in the program.

What is program evaluation?

Evaluations systematically collect and analyze data to assess program design, implementation, and effectiveness. Evaluations typically fall under two main stages – formative and summative evaluation.

  • Formative evaluations assess initial and ongoing program activities and provide information for program improvement.
  • Summative evaluations assess the quality and impact of a fully implemented program.

Project evaluation
Source: NSF 2010 User-Friendly Handbook for Project Evaluation

Formative evaluations typically take place during the implementation of the program and have two components: 1) implementation evaluation; and 2) progress evaluation.

Implementation evaluation assesses whether the program is being implemented as planned and if the program is delivering to participants, for example, do STEM teacher leaders meet with teachers in their school at least twice a week as outlined by the program model? What is the number of hours of training on adult learning that participants in the STEM teacher leadership development program receive?

Progress evaluations assess the progress of the program in meeting its ultimate goals. Both of these components can be used to inform ongoing program improvement.

Summative evaluations are most often conducted after a program has been fully implemented to assess what it has achieved. Unlike formative evaluations, summative evaluations are more outcomes-focused than process-focused, e.g., did students demonstrate increased knowledge in STEM-content areas? Were STEM teacher leaders retained at a higher rate?