Capacity building is any process that increases the capability of individuals to produce or perform. It involves giving individuals knowledge, providing opportunities for them to make decisions, and empowering them to act. Capacity building enables all stakeholders to carry out their tasks to the best of their ability.
Goertz, Floden, and O'Day (1996) describe the process of capacity building for individuals and organizations in the context of school reform:
"Our framework for thinking about the nature of teacher and organizational capacity in the context of educational reform is organized around three central themes. First, we argue that teacher capacity and the capacity of other participants in the educational system is multidimensional, encompassing knowledge, skills, dispositions and views of self. In addition, these dimensions are interdependent and interactive. Second, individual capacity interacts and is interdependent with organizational capacity. Teacher capacity, for example, is developed through both individual activities and through interaction with communities of practice and with others in their school. School, or organizational capacity, is also multidimensional, and reflects vision and leadership, collective commitment and cultural norms to realize the vision, knowledge or access to knowledge, organizational structures and management conducive to learning and improvement, and resources (human, material and temporal). Third, organizational capacity, like individual capacity, can be galvanized and nurtured through infusion of ideas and perspectives from outside its ranks."
Capacity building includes all individuals in the educational community, regardless of the role they play. The knowledge, skills, dispositions, feelings, and perspectives of all individuals can impact the teaching and learning process. Increasing capacity demands attention to a variety of student needs and an increasingly holistic approach to education. Humans, no matter what age or role they play, are complex beings with complex learning and behavior patterns. This complexity naturally drives their capacity to do their jobs and carry out their responsibilities--whether those responsibilities encompass going to school, teaching school, or guiding those who teach school.
Individual capacity is influenced by organizational capacity. All school staff should remember and capitalize on the understanding that students, parents, community members, business leaders, and in fact, the world community can and should be members of communities of practice when appropriate.
Organizations, like individuals, should be open to new people and new ideas. Such exposure and interaction incrementally increases capacity. In effect, any mechanism that brings new information into the organization expands the capacity of the organization as well as the capacity of the individuals who work in and are impacted by that organization. Forming partnerships with professional organizations, universities and colleges, local businesses, and museums can provide new ideas and support for the change that a standards-based curriculum calls for in both teaching and community involvement.