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Jennie Whitcomb, (303) 735-3029,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Think Twice Project Reviews TNTP Report
Review questions value of report on teacher evaluation, Common Core

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 21, 2014) – A recent report from TNTP, Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching, asserts that current classroom observation rubrics are not aligned with Common Core standards and have too many cumbersome criteria. The report proposes several remedies to improve teacher evaluation rubrics; however, an academic review released today questions the value of the report.

Dr. Jennie Whitcomb of the University of Colorado Boulder reviewed the report for the Think Twice think tank review project. The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Fixing Classroom Observations claims that current observation rubrics overload observers, result in too many high ratings, and seldom give productive feedback to participants. The report identifies two key changes to improve observation rubrics: (1) pay more attention to lesson content; and (2) pare observation rubrics down to make them more focused and clear.

Whitcomb found that the "two recommendations have potential to improve implementation of Common Core and teacher evaluation systems," but there is no research evidence presented that the strategies suggested will work. No research was found to support the claim that clinical or instructional feedback improved practice. The report cited only one study and ignored all other research on the design of research-based classroom observation tools.

Whitcomb says, "Improving observer training, monitoring collaboration, and providing necessary time in school schedules to both conduct adequate observations and provide sound feedback may hold greater promise to improve teacher's instruction and student's learning experiences." She suggests that better implementation of current tools may hold more promise than the remedies suggested in the report.

The review concludes that the problems of teacher evaluation are too complex to be seriously addressed by simply streamlining observation instruments or aligning content more closely with Common Core.

Rather than solving implementation problems facing schools, Whitcomb says, "The report appears to be a sales-pitch for TNTP's soon-to-be-launched observation tools focused on Common Core lesson content."

Find Jennie Whitcomb's review on Great Lakes Center website:

Find Fixing Classroom Observations on the web:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:

Jennie Whitcomb is the associate dean for teacher education at the University of Colorado Boulder and a former editor of the Journal of Teacher education.

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