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The Observation Protocol for Academic Literacies (OPAL) conceptual framework and validation report describes the development of the OPAL instrument and the results of the validation study that confirms OPAL as a research-based tool to measure classroom practices for ELs.

The OPAL development began in 2006 as a research-based behavioral observation tool that measures teacher practices and classroom interactions from a sociocultural language acquisition perspective. It utilizes a six-point Likert- scale (1-Low – 6-High) to rate instruction across four domains and 18 indicators: 1) Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum, 2) Connections, 3) Comprehensibility, and 4) Interactions. The instrument allows for anecdotal notes to be taken during the observations. This report is organized into two sections: 1) the conceptual framework–including the underlying sociocultural perspectives and effective teaching practices for ELs with the description of the four domains; and 2) the technical report describing the validation study–including phases of development, content validity, construct validity, and data analysis and results.

Key highlights from this report position the OPAL as a valid and reliable measure of instructional practices that can support teachers of ELs in refining the content and language development of ELs given that the OPAL:

  • standardizes the description of research-based practices for ELs
  • has content validity for measuring the optimal classroom conditions that bolster EL’s academic achievement
  • has construct validity for each of the four domains as measured by confirmatory factor analysis
  • is proven to be a reliable tool as measured by the Cronbach’s Alpha

The final chapter of the report provides recommendations for the OPAL for professional development and for examining teaching and learning for school reform and for conducting research that leads to improvement of EL outcomes. Further research to establish the predictive validity of the OPAL is also implied.

Publication Date



Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research

Recommended Citation for Full Report

Lavadenz, M. & Armas, E. G. (2012). The Observation Protocol for Academic Literacies: Conceptual framework and validation report. Center for Equity for English Learners, Loyola Marymount University.

The Observation Protocol for Academic Literacies:  Conceptual Framework and Validation Report