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Getting to Know the DCPS Essential Practices

The Essential Practices (EP) Observation Rubric describes what great teaching looks like in DCPS classrooms. The five research-based EPs clarify instructional expectations for excellent teaching and provide educators across the district with a common language to discuss their practice. Among the key ideas in the Essential Practices are the importance of rigorous content, the value of student ownership of learning, and the need for meaningful learning experiences in our classrooms. Download the The DCPS Essential Practices[PDF] and the The DCPS Essential Practices— Early Childhood Education[PDF] rubrics.

The DCPS Essential Practices

EP 1: Cultivate a responsive learning community
EP 2: Challenge students with rigorous content
EP 3: Lead a well-planned, purposeful learning experience
EP 4: Maximize student ownership of learning
EP 5: Respond to evidence of student learning


“I have had many thoughtful, insightful conversation which have enriched my teaching practices. Reflection is a key part of IMPACT, just as it is with the learning experiences we offer our students. I am so appreciative of the feedback IMPACT provided me in recent years and the opportunity to grow as a professional.”

- Teacher, Van Ness Elementary School


The Essential Practices Video Library is a growing collection of videos featuring DCPS teachers from all over the district. The library brings the Essential Practices alive by showing what excellence looks like in DCPS classrooms. Each video offers a snapshot of exemplary DCPS classroom instruction across grade levels and content areas, along with a play-by-play of key teacher actions that illustrate the Essential Practices. DCPS staff, view the entire Essential Practices Video Library on Canvas.

Below are a few examples from the video library:




Learn more about IMPACT