The MQI instrument captures the nature of the mathematical content available to students during instruction, as expressed in teacher-student, teacher-content, and student-content interactions. Five domains of instruction are measured (click on the domains below for details).

Each recorded lesson is divided into equal-length (e.g., 5 or 7.5 minute) segments for scoring. Two raters independently give each segment a score for each of these five MQI domains. Using short segments allows raters to capture events as they happen, without resorting to memory or notes at the end of the lesson. Raters also each give the whole lesson an overall MQI score as well as scores for other factors such as the pacing of the lesson, the density of mathematics in a lesson, and the extent to which the tasks and activities assigned develop mathematics.