What is Peer Assistance and Review (PAR)
The basic premise behind PAR programs is that teachers help teachers. In peer programs, experienced, accomplished veteran teachers provide sustained, intensive assistance to teachers who need it.
Who do PAR programs target?
Peer programs generally identify two categories of teachers who need assistance: first-year teachers and other educators new to the school system and veteran teachers experiencing problems with their teaching.
What's the difference between peer assistance and peer review?
Peer assistance aims to help new and veteran teachers improve their knowledge and skills by linking them with consulting teachers. Peer review adds one significant element to peer assistance. Under California's new law, peer review means that teachers with unsatisfactory evaluations may be evaluated by a consulting teacher. A peer review panel then reviews the consulting teachers' report of the struggling teacher's participation in the PAR program and makes a recommendation on the teacher's continuing employment to the school board. Every member's due process rights will still be protected by the union, but the union is assuming a deeper responsibility for helping struggling teachers improve.
What are some of the benefits of PAR programs?
Unions in other cities are finding that PAR programs, because they provide true help to struggling teachers, have reduced the number of teaches who must be formally terminated. Another positive benefit has been in new teacher retention. On average 50 percent of new teachers drop out of the profession within five years, but in some PAR programs, about 80 percent of all new teachers are still teaching within their first five years.
How do PAR programs prevent principals from appointing their favorite staff to be consulting teachers?
Consulting teachers are chosen by the peer review panel--not by the principal--and the majority of the panel must be teachers chosen by other teachers. The highest standards will be applied in the selection of consulting teachers, because the credibility and training of consulting teachers is critical to the success of the PAR program.
Will all California school districts be getting PAR programs?
The state's new peer assistance and review law signed by Governor Davis in April provides significant monetary incentives for school districts to negotiate PAR programs before August 1, 2000. UTLA is in good shape to benefit from the financial incentives in the bill because we were ahead of the game and already working on our PAR program long before Davis signed his bill. If districts do not have a PAR program in place by the 2001-02 school year, they will face serious financial consequences.
Won't it affect staff camaraderie to have teachers assist and review other teachers?
All the evidence from cities already using PAR programs indicates that peer assistance and review programs are more effective than traditional evaluation methods to improve the practice of new and veteran teachers or to counsel them out of the profession. Teachers have a vested interest in the profession; they know that incompetent colleagues diminish the reputation of the profession as a whole. Teachers also know they must face the unprepared students coming to them as a result of inadequate instruction.