Peer review — teachers working with struggling colleagues — is helping to improve or weed out ineffective teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland, reports the Washington Post. The union is cooperating.
. . . Of 66 Montgomery teachers in peer review in the 2008-09 school year, 10 are being dismissed and 21 have resigned or retired. Five will remain in review for a second year. The remaining 30 will successfully exit.
“We’ve changed the whole culture from ‘gotcha’ to support,” said Montgomery Superintendent Jerry D. Weast.
If teachers don’t improve after a year of mentoring, a panel of 16 teachers and principals “decides whether to recommend termination or a second year of monitoring,” reports the Post. “No one gets more than two years.”
Toledo Federation of Teachers pioneered peer review 28 years ago, but few districts have followed suit. It requires a high degree of trust between the superintendent and the union.
In Montgomery County, a poor job evaluation triggers peer review.
Each year, the program weeds out 2 to 3 percent of the county’s probationary teachers, along with a smaller number of tenured faculty. (Of 66 teachers in peer review this year, 27 had tenure.) In nine academic years, peer review has pared 403 teachers from the system.
Mentors make unannounced classroom visits and exchange dozens of phone calls and e-mails to help teachers improve.
Peer review doesn’t work without more rigorous standards, use of data and managerial discretion, writes Eduwonk.