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
Related documents

How will the novice’s performance be reviewed?

A new teacher in RochesterA new teacher in Rochester

All districts require Consulting Teachers to conduct formal observations of novices and summarize their findings in written reports for the PAR Panel. These reports provide evidence of each novice’s growth towards meeting the district’s standards. PAR Panels use these reports, as well as information from CTs’ presentations, to decide whether to recommend renewal of a novice’s contract.

CTs’ responsibilities for evaluation are much the same across districts. PAR Panels require them to keep careful records of all their work with teachers, document their observations, and submit formal reports at regular intervals to the Panel. Although the frequency of these reports varies across districts, the content is largely the same. In their reports, CTs provide detailed examples of the teaching practice that they have observed and relate it to the district’s teaching standards. As their work with the novice draws to a close in the spring, CTs submit summary reports stating whether or not the teacher met standards. The PAR Panel then reviews these reports and makes its decision, often after the CT presents the report in person and answers questions.

“It’s not just what I think is good teaching. It’s not just my judgment. It is based on those performance indicators. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Syracuse CT

Syracuse CT Observing NoviceSyracuse CT Observing Novice

No district we studied requires that student achievement data be included in these reports, although some CTs review this information as they reflect on a teacher’s growth and strength. In Montgomery County, several Panel members said that, in reviewing the teachers’ performance, they like to know how student achievement in the novice teacher’s classroom compares with that of students in similar classes.

The number of formal reports that CTs submit varies across districts. Minneapolis requires a minimum of one each year. Toledo requires CTs to report in October about possible non-renewals and submit evaluations for all of their teachers at the end of each semester. Writing reports is an exacting and time-consuming process, since they are reviewed closely by the Panel and could be used if a legal challenge were to arise. For this reason, it’s important to consider about how many reports to require. Although they include useful feedback about progress for both the teacher and the Panel, more time for reports places a greater burden on CTs.

“I’m not telling you how to do your job. I’m telling you what a good teacher looks like. Now you can choose to be a good teacher or not, but this is what the district has decided a good teacher looks like. This is your rubric.”

Cincinnati CT

Some districts have special procedures that apply when a novice teacher is not meeting standards. For example, in Rochester, CTs may file an “Early Warning Report” with the PAR Panel any time after the first four weeks of school. If the intern continues to have “serious difficulties,” the CT files a mid-year Unsatisfactory Report. In such cases, the Panel may move to dismiss the teacher before the end of the year. When a novice continues to struggle in Toledo, the CT establishes a “Performance Goal” indicating what the teacher must do to meet a specific standard. The CT then must observe repeated success (two or three consecutive instances) of the teacher’s meeting this objective before the Performance Goal is lifted. Unlifted Performance Goals can result in automatic ratings of “unsatisfactory” on formal evaluations, which are submitted twice a year in Toledo.

In some cases, when a CT thinks a novice teacher is performing well, the CT can recommend that the novice be released early from the program. In most districts, within a few months into the school year, CTs lessen their focus on successful novices and increase the time they commit to novices who struggle the most.

“I was never in doubt, after spending a year with these people, about my recommendation. That might be vain of me, but I felt like I really knew the case well and I was very comfortable. . . . I just kept looking at the data and looking at the data. And it was just jumping out at me. Would I want my own child in that classroom? And when the answer was “no,” I made my recommendation.”

Montgomery County Former CT

Several times a year, the Panel meets to review teachers’ progress in meeting the standards. In Rochester, CTs submit only written reports. In all other districts, CTs both submit written reports and appear before the Panel to share their observations and answer questions about the services they provided as well as their assessment of the teacher’s performance. Some districts require CTs to present on every teacher in their caseload. Others, especially larger ones, require presentations only about those novices who are below standard and/or cases where the principal disagrees with the CT.

At the final hearings, the PAR Panel determines whether or not to recommend renewal for novice teachers. Panel members consider CTs’ reports and testimony, and in some districts, written reports from principals. Most Panels ask questions and deliberate after hearing the oral presentation(s), often seeking to reach consensus. Toledo moves directly from questions to a vote.

Over the years, each district has adopted a policy of granting a second year of PAR support when it seems appropriate. When this occurs, it is usually because the CT believes that the teacher has made progress and is likely to meet standards with one more year of support. Montgomery County’s Panel uses a list of “criteria for a second year of PAR” to guide their discussions about individual cases. These include such factors as whether a teacher was assigned out of his/her certification area and whether the teacher had adequate preparation before entering the classroom.