TNTP Core Teaching Rubric Turns One

Last year, TNTP came out with a bold proposition: If we want evaluations to deliver valuable feedback for teachers under Common Core, we have to simplify classroom observation rubrics and assess what’s being taught, not just how it’s taught.

This might sound like common sense, but it’s actually a pretty significant departure from the way most observation tools work—including the one we used to use for our own TNTP Teaching Fellows.

So we developed what we think is a better alternative. Last year, we released the TNTP Core Teaching Rubric, a free observation rubric that districts could use to simplify classroom observations and align instruction to Common Core or other state standards. The tool is downloadable from our website, so anyone can grab it, adjust it to the needs of their particular district and put it to good use. The full version of TNTP Core can be found here.

It’s been just over a year since TNTP Core went out into the world, and it’s been exciting to see the reaction to it. In the first few months after we released the rubric, we saw a strong positive response: Nine out of 10 respondents to a survey we sent out agreed that the rubric promotes Common Core aligned instruction, and eight out of 10 thought it would provide useful feedback to teachers.

Now, a full year later, we’ve made some changes to the rubric, based on feedback from users and our own new ideas about what could make it better. After all, our goal was always for TNTP Core to be a living, breathing document. We want it to evolve over time, as we deepen our understanding of the kind of observation measures and feedback that are most helpful to teachers as they strengthen their instruction to meet higher academic standards.

Some of the changes we’ve made to the rubric so far are modest—like adjusting the wording to make the rubric even clearer—but some of the changes are more substantial. Most notably, we’ve seen how important it is to assess whether or not students are making real progress toward grade-level expectations. Now, in order for teachers to earn a proficient rating on the rubric’s Demonstration of Learning measure, students’ work must demonstrate they are on track to meet grade-level and/or IEP-aligned lesson learning goals.   

With these changes in place, we’re excited to see the rubric get put to use in more schools across the country. In Oregon, the state department of education just approved TNTP Core for use across Coquille Public Schools. In Coquille, the superintendent, Tim Sweeney, explains that it was the clear, streamlined quality of the rubric that made it appealing. “The simplicity and straightforwardness of the rubric helps us to better focus our conversations with our teachers,” he says. It also shifts the focus of observations from teachers’ actions to students, which his district has been working toward for the past couple of years.

We’re hoping to see more districts adopt the rubric for use across all their schools. We use the Core rubric in our own Teaching Fellows’ programs; it gives us a clearer, more unified vision for excellent teaching across our Fellows programs, which is exactly what we hope it can do in school districts across the country.

Interested? Download the TNTP Core Teaching Rubric and give it a spin in your school. And if you’re using it already, drop us a line with your feedback. After all, TNTP Core has come a long way in its first year in the world, but we know it still has room to grow.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

Learn More About TNTP