Amidst the low buzz of student discussion, five sixth graders in the back of a classroom tried to figure out how Anita, the protagonist in “Before We Were Free ,” by Julia Alvarez, felt in one particular chapter. Their classmates were gathered in similar clusters around the room, while their teacher walked from group to group, listening, asking questions and observing her students in discussion. “Why do you think that?” asked one sixth grader, challenging a classmate who believed Anita was scared. Flipping through the pages, the boy stopped and pointed to a paragraph. “From this conversation, you can tell.” I perched on a milk crate and listened in on these discussions during the observation component of a recent Common Core Quality Review (CCQR), a new TNTP project to assess the current state of Common Core implementation in a district and help district leaders accelerate and improve the transition process. In addition to observing lessons—in more than 1,000 classrooms to date—we collect and analyze student work samples, conduct teacher focus groups, interview principals and district leaders and analyze curriculum and assessment materials provided by the district. These diverse sources of data give our district partners much-needed information about how their Common Core strategy is playing out in classrooms. We’re learning a lot along the way, too.