NEPC Review: Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching

Fixing Classroom Observations: How Common Core Will Change the Way We Look at Teaching is an advocacy document. It asserts that current classroom observation rubrics are not aligned with Common Core standards and have too many cumbersome criteria; thus, observers are overloaded, give too many high ratings, and seldom give productive feedback. To remedy these problems, the report proposes two “must-have” changes to observation rubrics: (1) pay more attention to lesson content; and (2) pare observation rubrics down to make them more focused and clear. These “must haves” may or may not address some problems of classroom observations, but there is good reason to conclude that they won’t provide much benefit. The report includes no research-informed argument to support its claim that new observation rubrics improve implementation of new teacher evaluation systems by fixing inadequate observer training, insufficient monitoring of rater calibration, and lack of time or low skills in providing instructional feedback. Tools that help observers focus on lesson content may guide substantive improvements, but the report does not offer a strong rationale for doing so. Streamlined instruments and curriculum orientation may also hold some promise, but are unlikely to seriously address core problems surrounding teacher evaluations.

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