The heart of the A+ Toolkit is the change model, which provides a guide or framework. The model has three phases: 1. Identify Issues, 2. Initial Efforts, and 3. Gain/Sustain Momentum. The approach is flexible though. A command team may choose to start in any phase, depending on strengths they can draw on, the challenges they face, their vision, and leadership style.

Each of the three phases has four elements. In the Identify Issues phase, these consist of military and civilian resources and data. In the Initial Efforts and Gain/Sustain Momentum phases, they are actions: analysis, relationships, planning, and implementation. While all are essential to improving public K-12 education, again a command team can start with any of the elements.

The approach is not linear. Phases and elements form a series of feedback loops. Progress from one will inform the others. Lastly, leaders may engage in several phases or elements simultaneously.