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

Who participates in PAR?

• Does the program include novices, experienced teachers, or both?

Most districts start by including only novices in PAR, which serves as their induction program. If new teachers don’t reach proficiency by Spring, their contracts may not be renewed. Over time, most teachers in the district have experienced the program, which reinforces a professional culture of teaching. Most districts also develop a smaller Intervention program, providing support and evaluation to experienced teachers who are struggling in the classroom. Teachers on Intervention must demonstrate clear improvement or they will be dismissed. Several districts also offer a voluntary support program for experienced teachers who decide they need additional help.

Toledo CTToledo CT

Most of the districts we studied include both novice and experienced teachers in PAR, although few did so from the start. Including both groups can enable the district to have a comprehensive and integrated approach to support and evaluation, thus sending a clear message that the district is committed to the same standards of professional practice for all teachers.

However, including experienced teachers in PAR can generate controversy among union members if they philosophically oppose peer review or personally know the teachers involved. New teachers have fewer personal relationships with other teachers and do not have permanent contracts or protections under state tenure laws. Thus, deciding not to renew a new teacher is far less challenging for a program than dismissing a tenured teacher. Thus, it may be simpler and more politically feasible to start with just a novice program. Within a few years, success with the novice component of PAR can build support for the more comprehensive program.

Because PAR programs are expensive, beginning with a novice-only program may also limit initial program costs. For example, Syracuse, which began PAR in 2005, focuses its program resources on novice teachers, although the district talked from the beginning about eventually including experienced teachers in a voluntary component.