Professionalism and the New Teacher Evaluation Law: Should Teachers Play a Role in the Assistance and Evaluation of Colleagues?

 The New York State Teacher Evaluation Law requires that elements of the new law must be negotiated by the Local Education Authority (i.e., the DOE) and the Collective Bargaining Agent, the UFT.
The State teacher union, NYSUT, lays out the timelines for the negotiations here.
An intriguing question: Should teachers have a role in the observation/evaluation of other teachers? This is commonly referred to as peer review.
The general area of peer review is usually referred to as Peer Assistance and Review (PAR).
It has a surprisingly long history.
In 1983 Toledo negotiated a PAR system, that, with some bumps in the road, is still in effect.
The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education created a “Users Guide to Peer Assistance and Review,”, they suggest that,
In order to work, the parts of PAR must be compatible, complementary, and coherent. This means that those who create PAR must take off their partisan hats and work on behalf of better schools, wherever that may take them.
The Project is a detailed description and analysis of PAR programs in range of school districts and a worthwhile read.
A few months ago UFT President Mulgrew raised the issue of peer review at a delegates meeting, and received a very lackluster response.
You can probably count the number of schools in New York City that are currently involved in a peer review program on the fingers of one hand!
From Al Shanker to Sandy Feldman to Randy Weingarten UFT leaders have encouraged and negotiated the peer assistance part of PAR.
The UFT contract supports a Peer Intervention Program (PIP),
The Board and the Union recognizes that instructional services should be delivered by a highly qualified and motivated staff, accorded the respect and professional treatment to which they are entitled. Towards that end the Board and the Union have agreed to provide resources and peer assistance on a voluntary confidential basis to staff who have completed probation and who believe that their teaching competence will benefit from that assistance.
Teachers who are in jeopardy of being charged under State law may avail themselves of the Peer Intervention Plus program,
A new program (PIP Plus) will be created for tenured teachers in danger of receiving charges pursuant to §3020-a for incompetence, which will be staffed by independent consulting teachers. These consulting teachers will not be employed by the Board of Education and will not be active members of the UFT, and instead will be provided by an independent third party vendor, mutually agreed to by the parties, pursuant to a contract in a form developed by the Board and approved by the UFT.
Former Chancellor Klein was not a supporter of the program,  he advocated for the abolition of tenure and the unrestricted right of principals to hire and fire.
Chancellor Klein is gone and the law requires that the Department and the Union negotiate key sections of the new evaluation law.
There is an opportunity to allow a cohort of schools to opt into a teacher-to-teacher peer review program. Schools, utilizing the school-based option (55%) section of the Agreement, could choose to “opt in” to a peer review zone, with a sunset.
Teachers are fond of saying, “Leave me alone and let me teach, I know what I’m doing.” 
It is fair to ask: How do we know it?
If you object to ill-designed and misleading pupil achievement data should we depend on principals’ judgment? Or, should we use a mutually agreed upon rubric and portfolios of student work.
Or. perhaps, experienced master teachers, selected through a transparent process, could play a role in the assistance and evaluation of colleagues.
Teachers as professionals.

One response to “Professionalism and the New Teacher Evaluation Law: Should Teachers Play a Role in the Assistance and Evaluation of Colleagues?

  1. Jackie Foil Retired

    Provocative. There is research to back up a well designed peer review approach. Certainly it MUST have the input of the UFT, who or what else will insure that teachers are protected.


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