Although coaching has emerged as a popular approach for providing job-embedded, individualized, and sustained professional development for teachers (Denton & Hasbrouck, 2009; Showers & Joyce, 1996), there has been only limited research on the impact of coaching approaches or specific coaching components. Recent studies, however, have found positive effects from a specific coaching model designed to support teachers in using data to: (a) guide instructional decisions and (b) monitor and adjust the implementation of research-based instruction and interventions that lead to improvements in student performance. This approach, known as data-driven instructional coaching, has been found to be effective both for (a) improving teachers’ knowledge, perceptions, and instructional practices and (b) boosting student achievement, especially for students experiencing academic difficulties (e.g., Glover & Ihlo, 2014).
The SSI Project has developed a strategic coaching approach and assessment system aligned with the data-driven instructional coaching model. This approach has been designed to support teachers’ instructional practices and improve student outcomes by addressing needs identified through the collection of data. Highly effective teachers from participating schools are trained to support their peers through a four-phase, one-on-one iterative coaching process that includes: (a) reviewing existing practices and student data relative to intended curricula, standards, and expectations to identify broad coaching areas (Phase 1); (b) using data from direct observations and other sources to establish and confirm short-term and annual targets for teacher professional growth (Phase 2); (c) developing professional growth plans and support materials with teachers (Phase 3); and (d) implementing the professional growth plan, monitoring progress toward attaining targets, and providing on-going performance feedback (Phase 4). This iterative four-phase coaching model is shown in the figure.
To facilitate effective training of school-based coaches, the SSI Project has developed extensive training materials and coaching protocols. These have been designed to prepare coaches to support teachers in the following capacity:
The SSI Project team has also developed an innovative coaching assessment, the iCoach Action-Outcome Assessment System to: (a) assess the effectiveness of a coach, (b) identify a coach’s relative strengths and areas for development, and (c) provide feedback to support a coach’s development of competencies over time. The iCoach A-O System is an online, evidence-based tool for documenting key skills and interaction style of instructional coaches. The central component of this evaluation system is an action (A) and outcome (O) focused rating scale that is completed by a coach, the teachers served by the coach, and the coach’s supervisor. The collective perspectives of these raters provide a 360 evaluation because the coaches and everyone around them have input into the evaluation.