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Framework for Building Capacity

Conditions and Practices that Support Effective Collaboration and Impact Student Learning

This framework provides an overview of the types of organizational conditions and practices that enable schools to build and sustain a collaborative culture that is grounded in evidence of student learning.   Focusing on the collective capacity within a team, a school, a district, or an organization while also attending to rising literacy expectations increases the likelihood of effectively meeting the teaching and learning demands associated with the modern multi-faceted definition of literacy.

This Framework for Building Capacity and related tools provide research-based guidance to improve the process of professional learning.


Domain 1:  Deprivatizing Practice
  • Formal and informal peer observation occur regularly.
  • All share in the accountability for student learning.
  • Adult learning is a shared responsibility.
  • Evidence is collected and comfortably discussed with others.
  • Learning that occurs through collaboration is captured and shared with others.
Domain 2:  Enacting Shared Agreements
  • Decision making and actions focus on improving student learning.
  • All hold agreements about what quality literacy instruction looks like and about essential outcomes.
  • All agree on how to effectively assess essential outcomes.
  • Daily work  and decision making are driven by these shared agreements.
  • Literacy emphasis occurs across content areas.
Domain 3:  Creating Collaborative Culture
  • Successes and failures are shared safely and without judgment.
  • Time for collaboration is used productively and with purpose.
  • Participants share the leadership and own the process and outcomes.
  • Group members engage in hard conversations.
Domain 4:  Maintaining an Inquiry Stance
  • Collaborative work has clear goals and purpose.
  • Collaboration focuses on the core issues of student learning in our context.
  • Intended student outcomes are clearly defined, and progress is closely monitored.
  • A cycle of plan/act/reflect is used to solve problems of practice.
  • Commitments are made to act and report back to the group.
  • Appropriate expertise is sought when needed.
Domain 5:  Using Evidence Effectively
  • Collaboration is grounded in evidence of student learning.
  • Multiple sources of data are available.
  • Participants know how to use data effectively.
  • Student work is examined and discussed regularly with others.
  • Actions are assessed in terms of impact on student learning.
Domain 6:  Supporting Collaboration Systemically
  • Dedicated time is provided for professional collaboration within the work week.
  • Training, assistance, and tools are provided for effective collaboration.
  • Leadership supports and promotes collaborative work.
  • Leaders ensure access to timely data sources.
  • Experimenting with practice and trying new ideas are encouraged.
Use NCLE's Asset Inventory to determine where your group's strengths and weaknesses fall within these domains.

The inventory is intended to reveal your collaborative group’s perceptions of how often and to what degree these capacity-building conditions and practices show up in your day-to-day activities. These are the assets upon which you can build ongoing efforts leading to successful learning for every student.

NCLE's Continua for Capacity Building describes a developmental progression of key elements within each domain of this Framework.

This tool is useful for goal setting in relation to these processes and structures. An Inquiry Guide that encourages thought about the content of team learning in conjunction with the process of team learning is also available from this page.

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NCTE - The National Council of Teachers Of English

A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts