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What are organizational conditions? (Catalyze)

Organizational conditions refer to the factors or circumstances that exist in districts and schools that enable or prevent individuals from doing their best work. How people experience organizational conditions significantly impacts individual and collective agency and commitment, which are critical precursors to professional learning and practice change.

A. What organizational conditions are measured in Catalyze?

Catalyze helps leaders take stock of and understand the extent to which stakeholders experience critical organizational conditions:

  • Collective Vision

  • Inclusive Empowerment

  • Learning Culture

  • Supportive Leadership

  • Transformative Equity

  • Trusting Community

For a description of each organizational condition as well as specific measures, visit

For literature about each organizational condition, visit
B. How do organizational conditions impact professional ownership, growth, and student outcomes?

Countless studies across many fields of research show that organizational conditions influence individual and collective engagement, agency, motivation, commitment, learning and practice change. When inclusive, learning-oriented organizational conditions are present, people are more engaged and motivated to learn and share their learning. In addition, they are more committed to making change in their organization and their own practice. People’s willingness and commitment to change is necessary to improve learning conditions that optimally support student well-being, identity development and achievement. 

One example of the influence of organizational conditions on student outcomes comes from research by  the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research (Consortium). This work identifies five essential organizational conditions which support school improvement. Notably, this work found that students attending schools which were strong in at least three of these essentials “were up to 10 times more likely to experience substantial gains on both reading and math scores than students in schools that were weak in three or more of the supports” defined as essential organizational conditions (Hart, Young, Chen Zou & Allensworth, 2002 p.2).

Several studies have found that teachers’ professional learning, which is crucial for improving instructional practices and student learning, is fostered by supportive organizational conditions which included a trusting climate, opportunities for collaboration and participative decision making (Bryk et al, 1999; Leithwood et al. 1999; Sleegers et al., 2014; Thoonen et al., 2011). 

People in formal or informal leadership roles can use Catalyze to measure these organizational conditions.

C. Research about organizational conditions

The papers below provide a more extensive conceptual review of relevant research:

Catalyze Organizational Conditions Guides & References provides literature about each of the learning conditions that can be measured with Catalyze.
D. Why measure organizational conditions?

A gap can exist between leaders’ expectations and group members' experiences within an organization or team. Without hearing from individuals, leaders may not recognize that group members are facing barriers to learning and sharing or to implementing changes related to their learning. In hearing from individuals, leaders can enter into learning partnerships with group members as they work together first to engage in participatory data analysis and then to address challenges and build on strengths and successes with clarity and shared understanding.

Catalyze helps leaders collect individuals’ feedback and partner with them to create a more engaging and equitable learning and working environment.

E. How does PERTS determine which organizational conditions to measure?

PERTS, along with our research partners, considers multiple factors when deciding which conditions to measure:

  • Is there scientific evidence that the organizational condition affects learning? The condition must have a well-established relationship to adult learning, motivation, organizational commitment, practice change or school reform.

  • Can leaders directly influence the organizational condition? Many conditions affect whether individuals can learn and translate that learning into practice change and increased organizational commitment.  Some of those conditions, like salary or work hours, can be difficult for leaders to directly influence in the short term. Other organizational conditions can be influenced in powerful ways by leaders’ decisions.

F. How does Catalyze measure organizational conditions?

People in formal or informal leadership roles can use Catalyze to measure these organizational conditions.

When leaders implement Catalyze, individuals are asked to complete a survey with carefully designed questions that have been developed by researchers. The questions help leaders identify how individuals’ experiences on their team or in their school could be hindering or facilitating their learning, motivation and commitment to change. This enables leaders to take targeted actions to influence these experiences thereby improving organizational conditions over time. We recommend that leaders survey individuals 3+ times per year so that they can monitor how conditions are changing over time and make real-time adjustments based on feedback.

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