What is unique about the TPO – the Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad?

CENTA Teaching Professionals’ Olympiad or TPO is a first-of- its-kind national competition for teachers across India. The test is standards-based and, through that, grounded in best practices and relevant research. The test innovatively assesses teaching practice through situation responses. After the tremendous response of teachers across the country to the first two editions, the third edition was held in 29 cities across India (vs. 23 last year) and in Dubai on December 9, 2017, and in 14 subject tracks, including one track in Hindi medium, one track in Tamil medium and one track in Telugu medium, plus three ‘TPO Challenger’ tracks.

What is the benefit to me, a teacher, participating in the TPO?

Firstly, you get the opportunity to win some very exciting prizes, including cash awards, participation in an international conference, national recognition and the opportunity to co-author a book. Secondly, every teacher will get a Confidential Personalized Performance Report providing details and analysis of your performance and how it compares to other test takers. Thirdly, the TPO is the first step towards the CENTA Certificate which is a professional certification for teachers.

Why is it interesting for us, a school, to encourage our teachers to participate in the TPO?

TPO allows schools to create opportunities for their teachers at a national level, which are often difficult to create otherwise – e.g. participation in an international conference, profiling in a national newspaper, opportunity to contribute to a book and so on. The school (or institute or organization) also gets recognized along with each winning teacher, through a TPO Certificate. Every teacher who participates in CENTA TPO 2017 gets a detailed confidential performance report which can give focused direction to their own professional development, therefore benefitting the school.
All schools that have 10 or more teachers participating in the TPO will also receive a summarized report of their teachers’ performance (WITHOUT names of individual teachers), which we hope can significantly inform the school’s overall professional development efforts for its teachers.

How long is the TPO test and can I take it at home if I have an internet connection?

The TPO 2017 was a two-hour long test in all subject tracks other than the challenger tracks. The challenger tracks were three and a half hour long tests (including a 15 minute break). The test could not be taken at home. It could only be taken in one of the 30 cities with test centres.

The computer interface for the TPO was very simple, requiring the candidate to only to click on the right answer choice in each question (pen and paper could be used to do rough work). Previous TPO participants confirmed, through the post-test feedback form, that the interface was simple to use!

What is the syllabus for the TPO? How can I prepare for it?

TPO 2017 was an objective, multiple-choice test consisting of three sections. The first section was Subject Expertise which covered typical topics of the chosen subject and grade levels. This was independent of board and largely aligned with themes in the NCERT syllabus. It included knowledge, conceptual understanding, application and pedagogical or teaching methods in the subject. Pedagogical methods or pedagogical content knowledge refers to aspects such as lesson planning, student assessment techniques, sequence of teaching and so on, specific to the subject.

The second section was Classroom Practice and Professional Competencies. It covered aspects such as learning theories, lesson planning, assessment, child development and so on. In addition to knowledge and understanding, this section had several situation response questions, therefore testing practice.

The third section was Logical Ability and Communication. It covered common aspects such as analytical reasoning, sentence construction and so on./p>

To download a more detailed syllabus for TPO 2017, please go to the section ‘About TPO’ and click on Format, Syllabus and Tracks. Please note that there is no specific prescribed text for preparation for TPO. Registered participants were able to download sample questions later, which helped in preparation.

How is TPO Challenger different from TPO?

TPO Challenger 2017 was an in-depth test of subject expertise, pedagogical methods and classroom practice in the context of the particular subject. It was meant for teachers who are particularly passionate about their specific subject and keen to go deep into teaching methods in the subject. True to its name, TPO Challenger hopes to identify ‘the best teachers in the subject’. TPO Challenger was introduced as a new concept in 2016 and given the tremendous response it evoked, we not only continued the Challenger but also offered a new track. In 2017, we offered TPO Challenger in three subject tracks, Middle School English, Middle School Maths and Middle School Science.

TPO Challenger ran from 3 PM to 6:45 PM on the same day as the TPO (December 9th) and was available in all TPO centres. TPO Challenger was a three and a half hour test with a 15-minute break in-between, where the first two hours were the same as the main TPO, and the third hour and a half was additional.

TPO Challenger winners will be eligible for all the prizes and ranks of the main TPO (for which only the first two hours, common between the main TPO and Challenger, will be counted). Further, there are also additional prizes exclusively for TPO Challenger – including a Rs. 1 lakh cash award for the topper of each of the three challenger tracks.

What is the scoring pattern for the TPO? Is there any negative marking?

TPO 2017 was for a total of 100 marks, split as 40 for Subject Expertise, 40 for Classroom Practice and Professional Competencies, and 20 for Logical Ability and Communication. The approximate number of questions in each section was 25, 25 and 14 respectively (a total of approximately 64 questions). There were no sectional time limits and candidates could attempt the questions in any order. Different questions had different marks.

There was no negative marking in the main TPO. However, in the TPO Challenger tracks, the third hour and a half had selective negative marking.

What is the scoring pattern for the TPO Challenger? Is there any negative marking?

TPO Challenger was an additional option available specifically in Middle School Maths and Middle School Science in 2017.

TPO Challenger was for a total of 150 marks. Of this, the first three sections totalling to 100 marks, were the same as for the main TPO in the same track. The third hour (additional for the challenger tracks) was for 50 marks.

There was no negative marking in the first two hours or first 100 marks (same as for the main TPO). There were selective negative marking in the third hour, i.e. the additional 50 marks.

Do I have to attempt the questions in a specific order?

Absolutely not. Within the two hours, you could attempt the sections and questions in your preferred order.

I am a Standard 9 teacher and have chosen High School Maths track. Will I be tested on concepts from Standard 12 as well?

Yes. Grades are divided broadly as ‘Primary’ (Standard 1 to 5), ‘Middle School’ (Standard 6 to 8) and ‘High School’ (Standard 9 to 12). Therefore, the High School Maths track will cover concepts from across Standard 11 to Standard 12. The underlying philosophy is that a teacher should be familiar with concepts in adjacent grades also.

I am a Standard 8 teacher and have opted for Middle School Maths. Will I be tested on concepts from Standard 9?

Generally, no. Grades are divided broadly as ‘Primary’ (Standard 1 to 5), ‘Middle School’ (Standard 6 to 8) and ‘High School’ (Standard 9 to 12). Therefore, if you have chosen Middle School Maths as a subject track, you would not have been tested on Standard 9 concepts, unless a variant of the same concept is taught is part of Standard 8 syllabus also as per NCERT. However, please note that the specific interpretation of syllabus topics was entirely at the discretion of CENTA.

I have participated in the previous editions of the TPO. Can I participate again? Is there any restriction on the rank or prizes that I can get?

Yes, you could participate again. There is no restriction with respect to scoring and ranking – you would compete normally with all the participants of the current year and can get any rank as per your score. However, for two specific prizes – international conference sponsorship and profiling in The Hindu group of publications – we have placed a restriction for those who won these in TPO 2015 and TPO 2016. This is to make sure that a larger number of teachers get access to these unique opportunities.

Can I take the TPO if I am a professional fellow working in education, not a school teacher?

Yes, the TPO is intended for teaching professionals as well as others interested in teaching (including those not teaching currently). Therefore, fellows, volunteers and others were welcome to participate. However, since the intent of the initiative is primarily to recognize and celebrate career teachers or teaching professionals, in each category of prizes, there was a cap on the number/kind of prizes that could be given to fellows, volunteers and others, as decided by a panel.

Can I take the TPO if I have not taught before or am not teaching currently?

Yes, the TPO is intended primarily for teaching professionals and those interested in becoming teaching professionals. However, the eligibility criteria for participating were only: 18 years of age (as on January 1st, 2018), and a graduation degree in any field (if you hold a diploma in education, you could participate even without a graduate degree). Teaching qualifications and teaching experience are not mandatory for participating in the TPO.

I am currently in the final year of my Graduation degree. Am I eligible to take the TPO?

To be eligible for the TPO, you should have completed a graduation degree in any field. Alternately, if you have a diploma in education, you can take the TPO.

Is the TPO for private school teachers or government school teachers or both?

TPO is for all teachers of the country irrespective of the type of school they teach in.

The subject I teach is not included in the test tracks. Can I choose any other subject for the TPO?

Yes, participants could choose any test track that was most suitable, from the subject-grade combination tracks available. It was their choice and should ideally be a subject with some long term interest and in which they may also like to be CENTA Certified in the future. We are increasing the number of subject tracks available, each year

Can I take the test in a subject different from what I register for?

No, the test could be taken only in the subject or test track for which the candidate had registered.

Can I opt for more than one subject track?

Yes, participants could opt for a maximum of three subject tracks in different time slots. However, please note that certain subject tracks were only available in specific time slots – based on this, they could choose two or three test tracks in the ‘Test details’ page of the registration form.

Will I be given the centre of my choice?

Participants were given a centre in the city selected by them during the registration process, out of the 30 cities with centres for TPO 2017. Exact centre location within the city was at CENTA’s discretion (though we endeavoured to capture preferences in the case of the bigger cities or metros).

Will I be given the time slot of my choice?

TPO 2017 was conducted in three time slots: 9 AM to 11 AM, 12 Noon to 2 PM, 3 PM to 5 PM. However, some of the Subject Tracks may not have been available in all the slots – once participants chose their Subject Track in the registration form, the time slots available for that Subject Track were shown, and they could provide their preference. However, participants may or may have got the time slot selected as preference – the final allocation was made at CENTA’s discretion based on availability and was communicated in the hall ticket, available for download a few weeks before the test. Please note that the TPO Challenger 2017 was available in only the third time slot and ran from 3 PM to 6:45 PM.

What is the payment for the TPO?

The fee for any test track except the three challenger tracks was Rs. 450 each. The registration fee for TPO Challenger was Rs. 950. This was to be paid as part of registration process and is non-refundable. If participants chose to take the TPO in more than one track (maximum of three), the registration fees for each was added to the total fee.

How should the payment for the TPO be made?

There were two ways to make the payment: 1) making the payment online, that was the simplest option and the registration was confirmed immediately; 2) participants could also courier a cheque/ Demand Draft to us.

Any school or organization with 10 or more teachers participating also had the option to register and pay together through the ‘institutional registration’ form. In the case of institutional registration, direct bank transfer was also available as an option.

Some teachers from my school have already registered for the TPO through Institutional Registration? Can I still register for the TPO?

Yes, you can still register as an individual using the ‘individual registration’ form.

Will my TPO score be shared with the school I teach?

No, individual scores and ranks will not be shared with any school or organization – they are meant entirely for the individual and available only through the Confidential ‘Personalized Performance Report’. These reports can only be accessed by the candidate using his/her own login and password.

Only winner names will be announced and displayed on the CENTA and TPO websites.

What is the link between CENTA Certification and participating in the TPO?

The TPO is the first step to taking the CENTA Certification and the TPO score will carry forward towards the total score for the CENTA Certificate. However, there is no cut-off score associated and any interested participants from the TPO can apply for the CENTA Certification later.

What do the levels of the CENTA Certificate, L1/L2/L3, mean? Which level will I be eligible for, based on the TPO?

TPO does not determine the level of certification for which you are eligible. TPO is a common first step for all levels of the CENTA Certification.

L1 is for ‘new teachers’ or typically those with 0 to 3 years work experience. L2 is typically for ‘experienced teachers’, i.e. approximately 3 to 10 years work experience. L3 is for ‘senior teachers’, typically with greater than 10 years work experience. These are only broad guidelines. Teachers with less experience can apply for a higher level if they want (and vice versa), if they feel they are meeting the competencies for the particular level as defined in the CENTA Standards. You need to opt for a level only when you are applying for CENTA Certification, post TPO. The TPO is common for all levels, as stated earlier.