Instructional Model

Academy teachers continually keep their focus on ten different areas of instruction:

  1. Proficiency scales
  2. Assessment and feedback
  3. Proficiency-scale instruction
  4. General instruction
  5. Grouping and regrouping
  6. Engagement
  7. Comfort, safety, and order
  8. Belonging and esteem
  9. Efficacy and agency
  10. Metacognitive and life skills

Using the information and tools in this section of the Implementation Manual (a resource for current school partners), academy teachers should be provided with observational feedback on these ten areas and should engage in self-reflection regarding these ten areas. Relative to observational feedback, objective observers should provide feedback to teachers at least twice per year. A five-point scale is used to evaluate each of the ten areas of the instructional model. To illustrate, consider the following scale for the first area of the instructional model entitled Proficiency Scales:

Proficiency scales

To aid in assigning observational scores on this type of scale, a scoring protocol like the following is available to observers for each scale:

Observational Scales

Steps for Assigning Observational Scores

To use the observational protocol most effectively and efficiently, the following steps are recommended:


Step A: Start with the score 2.0 criteria which involve observing and interacting with the teacher. Look
for teacher evidence regarding the following three categories of behaviors:

  • Communicating scales
  • Tracking student progress
  • Celebrating success

Also, ask the observed teacher to provide verbal, written or video evidence by responding to prompts like the following:

  • Describe the measurement topics on which you are currently working.
  • Describe how you ensure students are tracking their progress.
  • Describe how you celebrate students’ status and growth.

If the teacher exhibits at least some observational, verbal, written, or video evidence for all three categories of behaviors, the teacher’s score is at least a 2.0. Then go to step B.

If the teacher does not exhibit some observational, verbal, written or video evidence for all three categories of behaviors, then go to step D.


Step B: This step addresses score 3.0 criteria which involves observing students and talking to students. In this case, the desired student behaviors and understandings that an observer is looking for indicate that students understand the nature of proficiency scales and the progression of knowledge they are working on. Evidence for this includes:

Tracking their progress on proficiency scales

  • Referencing proficiency scales
  • Seeking or providing help regarding proficiency sales

Observers should also have some brief conversations with a few randomly selected students during which they talk to them about:

  • The measurement topic on which they are working
  • The content in the proficiency scale regarding level of expectation for them
  • The progression of knowledge they are working on

If the majority of students are exhibiting the desired behaviors and understandings, then the teacher should receive an observational score of at least a 3.0 and go to step C.

If the majority of students are not exhibiting the desired behaviors and understanding, then the teacher’s score is a 2.0.


Step C: Ask the teacher to submit verbal, written or video evidence that he or she has identified those students who typically do not exhibit the desired behaviors and understandings and has made special accommodations to ensure that they do attain those behaviors and understandings. If this evidence is adequate, then the teacher’s observational score is a 4.0. If the evidence is not adequate, the teacher’s observational score is a 3.0.


Step D: Examine the teacher’s observational, verbal, written, and video evidence to determine if it addresses any of the three categories of behavior. If it addresses at least one of the categories, then the teacher’s score is a 1.0.

If the evidence does not address any of the three categories of behavior, then the teacher’s score is a 0.0.


For each area of the instructional model, a short observation form like the following is also provided:

Proficiency scales observation form 1

General Suggestions for Making a Single Observation

Assign a tentative score right after an observation that is based on observational evidence and verbal interactions with the teacher.

Examine any written or video evidence provided by the teacher after the observation and update the teacher’s score based on this new evidence.

General Suggestions for Making Observations Over Time

At the beginning of the year, make observations with the intent of generating scores for all 10 areas of the instructional model. This will require multiple observations. If the first observation produces data for four of the ten categories, then the next observation would focus on the six categories not addressed in the first observation. If this second observation produces scores for three of the remaining six categories, then the third observation would focus on the remaining three categories and so on. It is important to note that just because an observation is focusing on specific categories doesn’t mean that observational data should not be gathered for any other category for which data is available.