Program Evaluation: Formative vs Summative Evaluation

Program evaluation is the use of specific social research procedures to investigate and evaluate the effectiveness of a social intervention program. Evaluation can be separated into four different groups: merit, worth, value, and product of a process.

There are two types of evaluation called formative and summative. Formative evaluation is separated into two sub-categories (implementation & progress). Formative evaluation is an on-going evaluation. Summative evaluation is used to access the projects success after the project has ended.

Implementation evaluation may answer questions such as: participant selection, participant involvement, activities matching grant plan, strategies matching grant plan, changes to protocol, staff members hiring and training, materials and equipment possession, timeline, appropriateness of personnel, and the development and fulfillment of the management plan.

Progress evaluation may answer questions such as: participant progress toward certain outlined goals, what activities and strategies aided the participants to reach predetermined goals.

Summative evaluation is meant to evaluate the program at its conclusion. This type of evaluation will attempt to determine: the success of the project, goals being met, participant satisfaction and benefit, effectiveness, end results versus cost, and whether the program should be repeated or replicated.

The logic of evaluation, as developed by Scriven, states there are four steps to evaluation. These steps include selecting criteria of merit, setting standards of performance, gathering data, and integrating the results to pass final judgment of value.

After reading the Draft Strategic Action Plan for the University of California, Irvine it is apparent from an initial observation that their focus is to improve math and science instruction. The first plan is titled “Discipline Dialogues” which is the attempt to bring all teachers and teaching levels (grades) together like a community. The timeline of two years will examine possible new designs of units, experiments in technology, academics on Saturdays, research projects utilizing the city libraries, improving communications, and developing initiatives led by faculty members.

The use of formative evaluation would be very appropriate for these goals. The use of implementation will evaluate the teachers and activities used in math and science classes. After one year of completion, the use of progress evaluation can be used to see if the students are reaching any goals. It will also determine what activities and strategies used in these math and science classrooms are working and which ones are not.

After the two-year span of the project is complete, the use of summative evaluation is appropriate. It is at this time that the evaluator can determine if the Discipline Dialogues was an effective procedure. It will also be a valuable time to determine the merit of the program. The original goals will be discussed and evaluated to see if the project was feasible and if the goals were attainable.

Part two of the Strategic Plan calls for Teacher Leadership Cadre. The purpose of establishing this plan is to increase student achievement through teacher professional development. This program requires five years and consists of the following stages: content institutes for 240 elementary teachers, summer professional development, academic support for all members, district meetings, member recruitment, curriculum, classroom assessment of student work in areas of math and science, and developing standards based content and assessment.

The most appropriate type of evaluation would be formative because it is on going. A Progressive evaluation would determine what strategies and activities were helping students and it would also determine which professional development programs were helping teachers. The Strategic Plan mentions that the largest funding must be applied to teacher professional development. It is a costly venture because the teacher needs to be compensated and if it is during school hours, substitute teachers need to be provided. Based on budget constraints or allotment, the evaluation can determine the cost efficiency of the program after two years using a progressive evaluation.

The final plan in the Strategic Plan is called Future Teacher Highway. The purpose of this plan is to develop and recruit potential math and science professionals into the teaching workforce. This plan will consist of the following: working with the Department of Education, recruiting education students, helping provisionally certified candidates, and improving communication and advertising.

This program has not timeline. It has no timeline because this would be a plan for the future and would warrant a wider spectrum of evaluation. The most appropriate type of evaluation for this plan would be implementation (with exception to timeline). The best way to evaluate this program is to evaluate whether the candidates for employment involved in the appropriate programs. It will also measure whether the outlined activities helped these participants realize their goal of teaching. It is also a good time to evaluate if the appropriate materials and equipment was provided in order for the participant to succeed in the field of teaching math or science.

After reading the Strategic Plan it is obvious that the school district is trying to lure new math and science teachers into the district. They are also hoping these new teachers will be able to increase student achievement by providing professional development and by increasing the communication among grade levels.

To evaluate this plan would be to use both formative and summative processes. The formative approach would determine the implementation and progress of the plan and the summative approach would determine the feasibility and replication value of the program.

“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach”- Benjamin Mays

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