School Observation Measure (SOM)

School Observation Measure (SOM)


Structured observations have been conducted by researchers across the United States for several years using the Classroom Observation Measure, developed and validated by researchers at the Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) (Ross et al, 1991). Overall observation items from that instrument were modified to create the School Observation Measure (SOM), which represents a summary of ten 15-minute observations conducted in a single day. Multiple observations using the SOM allow researchers to determine the extent to which different common and alternative instructional practices are used in a school. School personnel can then evaluate actual, observed classroom practices within the context of their instructional goals. The factors are organized in six categories: Instructional Orientation, Classroom Organization, Instructional Strategies, Student Activities, Technology Use, and Assessment. In addition, the instrument solicits summary information regarding the amount of class time devoted to academics and the level of student engagement observed.

To ensure the reliability of data, observers must participate in extensive CREP delivered training. Additionally, observers receive a manual providing definitions of terms, examples and explanations of target strategies, and a description of procedures for completing the instrument. After reviewing the manual and receiving instruction in a group session, each observer participates in sufficient practice exercises to ensure that his/her data are comparable with those of experienced observers. In a reliability study (Lewis, Ross, & Alberg, 1999), pairs of trained observers selected the identical overall response on the five-category rubric on 67% of the items and were within one category on 95% of the items.

The instrument is propritery to The Center for Research in Educational Policy and The University of Memphis and can only be used with permission and a contractual agreement with the Center. Those interested in obtaining the instrument should contact the Center for additional information (see instrment website below).

The link below provides instrument documentation as well as the website where additional information can be found. The attachment provides instrument documentation.

Authors provide instrument validity and/or reliability information. 


STELAR is not the author of these materials and cannot provide information on validity or permission for use. Permissions must be requested through the publisher or authors listed below.




File Attachments: 

Feedback on this instrument from projects that have used it

amiller (not verified)
July 17, 2015 - 5:02pm

Q:  In what context did you use this instrument (setting, population, project name)?

Response: Classrooms, High School students (9th-12th), Memphis Virtual STEM Academy at East High School.

Q: Did you run into any limitations with this instrument? (Y/N)  If yes, please explain.

Response: No.

Q: Did this provide you with relevant information to address your research questions? (Y/N)  If yes, what question did this answer?

Response: Yes, it answered the questions "

To what extent do the model’s strategies increase students’ engagement in activities represented in the STEM and ICT workforce?" and " To what extent does the model improve academic achievement for program participants?".

Project Name: 

Memphis Virtual STEM Academy at East High School