Mike McMahon AUSD
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California Protocol

Source: Coalition of Essential Schools

Many teachers in California's Coalition member schools routinely use the tuning protocol to surface issues arising from close examination of student work. But the state's Restructuring Initiative, which funds some 150 schools attempting whole-school reforms, has also adapted and expanded the protocol for a new purpose: to examine how such issues relate to the larger school organization and its aims, and to summarize and assess its progress. Instead of having teachers present student work, the California Protocol has a school's "analysis team" work through an important question (possibly using artifacts from their work) in the presence of a group of reflectors, as follows:

The moderator welcomes participants and reviews the purpose, roles, and guidelines for the Protocol. [5 minutes]


1. Analysis Team provides an introduction including an essential question that will be the focus of the analysis. [5 minutes]

2. Reflectors ask brief questions for clarification, and the Analysis Team responds with succinct information. [5 minutes]

3. Analysis Team gives its analysis. [25 minutes]

4. Reflectors ask brief questions for clarification, and the Analysis Team responds with succinct clarifying information about the Analysis. [5 minutes]


1. Reflectors form groups of 4 to 6 to provide feedback; one member of each is chosen to chart warm, cool, and hard feedback. The Reflector Groups summarize their feedback as concise essential questions (cool and hard feedback) and supportive statements (warm feedback). Each group posts the chart pages as they are completed so Analysis Team Members can see them. [15 minutes]

2. The Analysis Team observes and listens in on the feedback process. They may also wish to caucus informally as the feedback emerges and discuss which points to pursue in the Reflection time to follow.

3. Each Reflector Group shares one or two supportive statements and essential questions that push further thought. [5 min.]

Team Reflection and Planning

The Analysis Team engages in reflection, planning, and discussion with one another (rather than in direct response to the Reflectors). Everyone else in the room observes silently as members of the Analysis Team reveal how they reflect, think, plan, and adjust.


The Analysis Team and the Reflectors engage in an open conversation about the school's work. [10 minutes]

Debrief and Closure

Moderator facilitates an open discussion and debriefing of the experience of the Protocol among all participants. [10 minutes]

Return to Looking Collaboratively at Student Work

Go to CES Cycle of Inquiry


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Last modified: June 2, 2004

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.