A User's Guide to

Peer Assistance and Review

  • What is PAR?
  • Costs and benefits of PAR
  • Designing your PAR project
  • Labor-management relations
  • Practical issues and advice

What does PAR cost?

Few districts could list the exact costs associated with their PAR program because those costs often were shared with other programs. In general, though, administrators acknowledged that PAR requires a substantial financial investment. The biggest cost, by far, comes from hiring teachers to fill the classes of CTs who are released either full-time or part-time. Although these replacement teachers may have less experience and earn less than the CTs, the full cost of their salary, fringe benefits, and training is significant.

captionRochester CT and new teacher

Beyond the costs of replacing CTs, PAR programs must cover other expenses which may include:

  • Additional stipends for Consulting Teachers (ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 across the districts studied);
  • Salary and benefits for a program director;
  • Salary and benefits for administrative/clerical support staff;
  • Stipends for PAR Panel members;
  • Substitute teachers for PAR Panel members to attend meetings;
  • Substitute teachers for teachers in the program to visit and observe other classes;
  • Office space for CTs;
  • Computers for CTs;
  • Mileage reimbursements for CT travel; and
  • Training costs for CTs and PAR Panel members.

The actual costs of PAR vary widely across districts, depending on the program’s size and design. Toledo estimates that its total program costs just over $700,000 a year, with the salaries of replacement teachers accounting for nearly 80% of the budget. Cincinnati reports that their peer review program costs approximately $1.2 million a year, although this includes some costs for the larger Teacher Evaluation System. The Rochester program, which has a full-time director and nearly 200 part-time CTs, has a budget of $2 million. Given differences in the size of the districts, these costs per teacher in PAR range from approximately $4,000 in Rochester to approximately $7,000 in Toledo.

Districts considering PAR should account for the costs of programs currently in place when estimating the costs of PAR. For example, PAR often takes the place of traditional mentoring programs, which exist in most districts across the country. Intensive mentoring, like the New Teacher Center’s program, can cost between $6,000 and $7,000 per teacher. Similarly, some districts have developed career ladders that already reward teachers for specialized roles or advanced certification under the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. These teachers may be receiving a stipend yet not be performing additional, valuable work. PAR provides an opportunity to use these teachers’ knowledge and skills more effectively. In estimating the costs of PAR, a district should only consider the incremental cost of the PAR program above other programs that it will replace.