Peer Assistance and Review by Mark Simon

Written by: Mark Simon

Teacher, administrator, and support staff evaluation is not a one-size-fits-all system in MCPS. When problems are identified, intensive support and intervention are provided through “peer assistance and review.” The system was designed and implemented starting in 2000 by MCPS and the employee organizations representing teachers, principals, and support staff. The theory is that the work of teaching and making schools effective is complex. When there are problems, intensive work with under-performing educators is needed to bring about substantial improvement or removal. In general, teachers and others seem to feel the Peer Assistance and Review system is fair and helpful. Thousands have improved their practice, and after almost 15 years, hundreds of teachers are no longer teaching because it wasn’t a good fit. It seems to be working. It’s admired nationally. But with anything this ambitious, there are bound to be problems and room for improvement. We’re going to be looking for the skinny on how its working, 15 years later.

2 Responses to Peer Assistance and Review by Mark Simon

  1. Phil PIety says:

    I wonder about the future of this area. I hear the state is imposing a new requirement for evaluations to be test-based in a way that is aligned with the Race to the Top (RttT) grant that MCPS did not participate in and received no money for. Is this true and can the state do this?

    • Mark Simon says:

      The State and MCPS have been in dialogue about this and do not see eye to eye. While Lillian Lowery, the state superintendent of schools, would like Montgomery to tow the line on using student test scores in teacher evaluation because the Montgomery exception makes the rest of the state question why they have to, she has little political credibility to get MCPS to change what they’re doing. The MCPS approach to teacher evaluation is viewed by most as being superior in every way. It provides more useful information to teachers. It focuses appropriately on the content of teaching. It keeps the stakes on standardized tests from skewing teaching in the test-prep direction. And it has proven to provide informed and effective quality control. Lowery is just plain wrong on this. She would lose if she were to take on MCPS, and probably knows it.

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