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The Four Cs of Creating a Learning Evaluation System

The four Cs of creating a teacher evaluation system are collective inquiry, collaboration, collective efficacy and context.

Collective inquiry refers to a teaching team's ability to look at an educational issue from a variety of perspectives and construct a shared meaning of the problem and all possible solutions, based on the various perspectives. The second step is to prioritize the problems, seek out solutions and prioritize a short list of actionable steps based on the culture, resources available and the ability of the team.

Collaboration refers to a teaching team's ability to identify a problem, agree on action steps, administer those action steps, assess impact, identify new possible actions steps, administer the new actions step cyclically, and eventually solve the problem.

Collective efficacy is the team's ability to inquire about educational issues and collaborate to solve the problem in an effective way collectively. Collective efficacy culminates with team success and results from collaboration.

Context is what lies in the background of the three other Cs. The context of the local school, their needs, wants, goals, aspirations, students and staff needs, is what brings an evaluation from something out there done to educators to something they do together.

Which brings us back to the PLC model. PLCs are oriented toward results. Without results, we are not collaborating. But we cannot not trust standardized portrayals of "results." Results for a teacher should mean learning—their own and that of fellow teachers and students.

Learning about yourself as a teacher, learning about your students, as learners, and as people. Using what you learn about yourself and students to promote their well-being—those are results.

This may be a shortcoming of the PLC models as presented in the literature. PLCs are results-oriented, but what results? Scores, graduation rates, disproportionality, reading levels, growth models? We have become too narrow in what we mean by results. Teachers simply need to learn about their students as people first, and then learners. If they know about them in this way, they will be able to work within their collaborative teaching teams to devise the best plan possible to help students grow academically, behaviorally and socially.

The most effective way to increase student achievement is for teachers to inquire collectively and collaborate. Results need to be defined within the context of process-oriented goals and objectives. The new results of PLCs are admittedly subjective in nature, defined in the local context of the school and verified by longitudinal normative data. But that's a good thing. We should stop attempting quick fixes in education. We know too much about how change occurs in a school—indeed must happen in schools—and the types of foundational cultures that must be built to encourage the desired change.

If we can bring the four Cs on board as the foundation of our teacher evaluation systems, we can build a system that encourages and assesses the things that we already know have a tremendous impact on student learning. That is the goal of this work. As you will see in the coming chapters, a teacher evaluation system can be built to assess the few things that teachers and principals do to increase student learning and achievement.

Collective Inquiry


  • • Inquire together
  • • Ask questions
  • • Answer questions, read
  • • Conduct action research
  • • Review data
  • • Discuss perceptions
  • • Observe and reflect on their practices
  • • Are knowledgeable about their work and the work of their peers.
  • • Have influence over the questions they explore and methods used to solve problems.


Teachers gather information about...

  • • Themselves
  • • Team
  • • School
  • • Students
  • • Parents

Teachers use that information to...

  • • Solve problems
  • • Increase adult professional learning
  • • Increase student achievement
  • • Influence well-being

Teachers collaborate to...

  • • Complete formal and informal needs assessments
  • • Strategize
  • • Prioritize
  • • Implement adult and student interventions
  • • Share governance of direction
  • • Create consensus to solve problems leading to cohesion
  • • Have influence over

the strategies employed.

Collective Efficacy

Collaboration leads to collective efficacy. Teams, working together to solve problems, increases the efficacy of the professional staff.

Teachers find success as an organization, not simply as individuals.

Educators are interdependently linked to the success of the organization.

Through effective participation in processes of inquiry, teachers work together as a team to develop objectives and meet goals.


The work of becoming a learning organization is having a productive working knowledge of context.

The context of the local school is an assumed piece of collective knowledge.

Educators that have a working knowledge of the context in which they work...

  • • Ask better questions
  • • Search for answers from schools similar to theirs
  • • Use local data

to track progress

• Collaborate to implement, adapt, change and try initiatives, interventions and strategies

Figure 5.3 The four Cs of a Learning Evaluation

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