When looking at the influences on student achievement, it is important to focus on those things over which we have some amount of control. One of the influences with the greatest impact is collective teacher efficacy. Wayne K. Hoy, Professor Emeritus of the Ohio State University defines collective efficacy as: “the shared perceptions of teachers in a school that the efforts of the faculty as a whole will have positive effects on students.” Since it is much easier to change teachers’ perceptions of their impact on student achievement than it is to change outside factors over which we have little control, such as the socioeconomic background of students, we have seen great interest in building collective teacher efficacy.
School leaders create and cultivate the unique cultures of their schools. School culture makes an important difference in student learning by providing a school context that reinforces important teaching and learning practices. Instructional leadership takes place when school leaders work with teacher colleagues to improve instruction by providing a school culture where change is linked to the best knowledge and practice about student learning.
Effective school leaders are the lead learners. Developing professional capacity is their work and effective leaders recognize that they cannot do it alone. School leaders can effectively improve professional capacity by nurturing a culture of efficacy—a culture in which professionals individually and collectively believe they can have a positive impact on all their students.
Schools with strong cultures of collective efficacy have faculties who believe they can make a positive difference in learning for all students. If teachers believe they can have a positive effect on students, then they are more likely to make choices that will result in increased student achievement, regardless of student characteristics (Goddard et al., 2004). There is a strong body of evidence that suggests collective teacher efficacy is crucial to student achievement, despite students’ socioeconomic status and prior learning.
When everyone in a school believes that together they can make a difference, the impact on student attainment can be almost quadrupled (Eells, 2011). Recently Hattie (2015), after reviewing 1200 meta-analyses of the effects on learning, ranked collective teacher efficacy as the number one factor among all of the influences that impact student achievement. Hattie revealed that collective efficacy had an effect size of 1.57, more than double that of feedback. These findings are especially significant because efficacy is more amenable to change than other factors, such as the social backgrounds of students. School leaders can have a positive influence on developing both individual and collective efficacy!