Instructional capacity can be described as the quantity and quality of resources provided to the school to ensure high quality instruction (Jaquith, 2013). Efforts have traditionally been focused on improving curriculum materials and training teachers on new instructional methods.
Schools are complex social organizations that interconnect and rely on other social systems. Their instructional capacity cannot be viewed as component-based. Effectively building capacity requires the ability to see the “bigger picture”, recognizing the many challenges to school improvement are unique to each school community (Cohen and Ball, 1999).
Among the many roles of the school principal, ensuring academic success for all students through shared vision and instructional leadership, and creating and maintaining the school environment to achieve that success in a safe and welcoming school are primary responsibilities. To these ends, building capacity is among the most important things a principal can do in guiding his or her school to better teaching and learning. It is the reason, more than any other, that professional development departments exist in school districts.
The components of instructional capacity are explored in greater detail in the ASAP course modules associated with each, including Instructional Leadership, Staff Development, Team Building, Assessment & Evaluation, and Operational Leadership. In fact, there are elements in every course module related to the instructional capacity of an educational organization. In this course module we define instructional capacity, the goals in building and improving it in the school, and strategies and methods for achieving greater instructional capacity to support continuous school improvement.