Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Reader Asks... Teacher Practice Targets

A LYS Principal asks the following:


When you last presented in our district, I recall a document that showed targeted observation frequencies for many of the practices that can be observed during a PowerWalk.  Would you mind sharing those targets again?

Thank you.

SC Response
No problem, but do remember that what I am about to share assumes that PowerWalks is being used correctly and there is above average inter-rater reliability among the observers.  It has been my experience that these are two huge assumptions.

When it comes to instructional practices, campuses always work back and forth along a quantity / quality continuum.

The campus should first work to get “quantity at a given quality” to a targeted level.  When those targeted levels are consistently met, the campus instructional team then redefines “quality” and begin the process anew. It is thru this process, that great campuses pursue targets that other campuses cannot imagine. They begin to play a game that requires a skill level beyond that of the rank and file campus. That is why site visits are such a powerful practice. When you visit an exemplar campus (defined as a campus that consistently outperforms its peers) you get to see in action a picture that your “reasonable” mind has told you is not possible.

This is also why comparing anything other than the observation total of campus based, self-reported walk-thru data is a waste of time for most outside observers. Because the seemingly objective data (cross campus) actually is not.

That being said, here are some recommended frequency targets for The Fundamental 5 instructional practices. 

Lesson Frame - 90%
Power Zone - 75%
Frequent Small Group Purposeful Talk - 35%
Recognize and Reinforce - 35%
Write Critically - 20%

Remember that these quantity targets are never met quickly.  One to three semesters is the norm. When a target is reached, the campus redefines the quality required to meet the new standard and moves forward.  This is why as a campus improves, to the uninitiated outsider it may look like the campus has plateaued or is moving backwards.  In fact, if this described data pattern is not observed, it is telltales sign that campus leadership and the PLC are shortchanging the walk-thru process.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn...

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on! 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Illinois ASCD Fall Conference (Multiple Presentations), Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Fall AP Conference, The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Multiple Presentations) 
  • Follow Sean Cain and LYS on  and like Lead Your School on Facebook

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