U-46 to start peer-review program for struggling teachers
Peer assistance program slated for U-46 next year
To ensure all students in Elgin Area District U-46 have effective teachers, the district will implement a program that identifies and provides support for struggling teachers beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.
The Peer Assistance and Review program, also known as PAR, is a collaboration between the Elgin Teachers Association, the National Education Association Foundation and district administrators. Kathryn Castle, president of the Elgin Teachers Association, and U-46 Superintendent Jose Torres, presented an update on the first phase of the program during Monday's board meeting.
"The PAR program is designed to support the struggling teachers and help the good ones get better," Torres said.
Before the program begins, a PAR panel of teachers union members and district administrators will be identified. The panel will determine eligibility for teachers and match the participating teacher with a peer consulting teacher, which the district is yet to hire.
The consulting teacher will spend time observing and working with the participating teacher on performance goals and provide feedback. Ultimately, the peer consulting teacher will work with administrators, who will conduct appraisal and reviews in the usual manner. The first stage of the program will be open to third- and fourth-year teachers who received a state rating of "Needs Improvement," as well as those who request additional assistance. Experienced teachers who moved into the district and have had one year of mentoring may also be eligible if space permits, Castle said.
"You want to support teachers so that students are getting the instruction they need," Castle said. "A lot of research shows in the first five years you are losing teachers. With the money the district spends on getting teachers to the district, that is like throwing money away. Implementing a program to support teachers ... ensures you're not throwing away those funds."
Once the district has assessed the effectiveness of the program and if the district continues to receive funding form the NEA Foundation, the program may be opened to additional teachers, Castle said.
Board member Joyce Fountain said she was encouraged that neutral relationships would be used to support teachers who are struggling and help them become successful.
"In the end, that will help students," Fountain said.
The groups have been working on the plan since fall 2010, when the district received a $30,000 grant from the National Education Association Foundation. The grant covered startup costs, not the program, Castle said.
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