Evaluating Leadership Preparation Programs

Program evaluation is an essential tool for program improvement and UCEA has invested in the development of a number of program evaluation processes and tools that can benefit educational leadership preparation in universities and a variety of other sectors.  These include: UCEA’s Institutional and Program Criteria, UCEA’s Developing Evaluation Evidence: An Evaluation Handbook for Educational Leadership Preparation ,UCEA’s INSPIRE 360 Preparation Program Evaluation Survey Suite, UCEA Institutional Review Process, and the newly developed State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs (SEP3) Tool Kit.

 A Deeper Look: INSPIRE Data Demonstrates Quality in Educational Leadership Preparation

This publication was developed and published by UCEA in cooperation with UCEA’s INSPIRE Institute for the Evaluation of Educational Leadership Preparation (

The University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) is an international consortium of universities that offer doctoral programs in educational leadership and administration and are marked by a distinguishing commitment and capacity to lead the field of educational leadership and administration. UCEA has a single standard of excellence for membership: superior institutional commitment and capacity to provide leadership for the advancement of educational leadership preparation, scholarship, and practice consistent with UCEA’s established mission. UCEA’s mission is to advance the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of all children and schools. UCEA fulfills this purpose collaboratively by 1) promoting, sponsoring, and disseminating research on the essential problems of practice, 2) improving the preparation and professional development of school leaders and professors, and 3) influencing policy and practice through establishing and fostering collaborative networks. To learn more about UCEA, please visit our website at

The INSPIRE Institute for the Evaluation of Educational Leadership Preparation was established to make available valid and reliable evaluation research tools and methods, a systemic process for collecting and analyzing program and state level data, training materials and opportunities for program faculty and evaluators, and strategies for leveraging data for leadership preparation program improvement. Furthermore, the Institute aims to support a rigorous and longitudinal research program focused on the preparation and practice of educational leaders.


UCEA Institutional and Program Criteria Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 10.50.52 AM

This guidebook for masters and doctoral programs in educational leadership includes the UCEA Institutional and Program Quality criteria. It also contains a rubric for each criterion that illuminates the practices associated with “very effective”, “effective” and “developing” programs, as well as suggestions for how preparation programs can use the rubrics to facilitate conversations around program improvement.


Developing Evaluation Evidence: An Evaluation Handbook for Educational Leadership Preparation was created to support a variety of program evaluation efforts that involve the collection of both formative and summative evaluation data.  The handbook is organized according to how program inputs and outcomes have been conceptualized and validated in evaluation research on leadership preparation programs and will help program designers: 1) Identify Formative and Summative Assessments; 2) Identify Measures and Outcomes (e.g., program and participant outcomes); 3) Evaluate the Relationship Between the Program Attribute and the Outcome; and 4) Use Data for Preparation Program Improvement.


INSPIRE Leadership Survey Suite Slide1

The UCEA-LTEL Co-Sponsored Evaluation Research Taskforce have worked to make available valid and reliable evaluation research tools, methods and training materials and strategies for leadership preparation programs. The result of this collaboration is the INSPIRE Leadership Suite of program evaluation surveys.

The INSPIRE Survey Suite enables:

  1. The collection and analysis of survey evaluation research data for program benchmarking and in-depth multi-program analysis of program features and graduate career and leadership practices outcomes.
  2. The creation of a systematic process for collecting and analyzing state data on degrees and certification by institution, and career advancement and school progress by graduates and institutions.
  3. The provision of evaluation training, technical assistance and support for leadership preparation programs, and establish regional train-the-trainer opportunities to increase evaluation technical assistance    capacity locally.
  4.  The creation of a sustainable system for on-going evaluation research to support the on-going evaluation and improvement of leadership preparation programs.

As you consider an evaluation approach for your leadership preparation programs, you should find the resource, Developing Evaluation Evidence, to be quite useful.  For additional assistance, we have provided a video of Dr. Ann O’Doherty, Director of the University of Washington Principal Preparation Program, discussing how she and her colleagues used Developing Evaluation Evidence at The University of Texas-Austin along with UCEA’s suite of evaluation tools. 



The State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs Toolkit                   (SEP3 Toolkit)

The University Council of Educational Administration and New Leaders partnered to create a set of resources and tools designed to help states improve principal preparation by reforming their current approach to evaluating educational administration programs.  The final results of this collaboration is the The State Evaluation of Principal Preparation Programs Toolkit (SEP3 Toolkit).

This toolkit offers guidance and recommendations on how states can improve principal preparation by increasing the depth and rigor of their preparation evaluation process, thus enabling them to accurately assess quality, promote program improvement, and intervene when performance is not satisfactory. It is designed to inform the growing number of education leaders and policymakers working to improve the quality of educational administration programs in their state.