A reader in Maryland wrote to second the nomination of Joshua Starr as an outstanding superintendent who supports students, teachers, principals, and schools and resists harmful federal policy.

One of the outstanding features of the Montgomery County schools is the PAR approach to teacher evaluation. It is about 1,000 times better than VAM or VAA or any of the other test-based methods now dominating federal and state methods.

It’s an honor to serve under Josh Starr in Montgomery County, MD. He is a very approachable Superintendent (day one: call me Josh). He travels extensively to all the schools in the county, which is quite a feat. He knows the dangers of too much testing. He tweets regularly (MCPS and MCPSSUPER).

And yes, our PAR system is good. It’s detailed here:

One of the things I like most about PAR is this. If a teacher is found to be not teaching at an acceptable level, they aren’t just tossed under the bus. As we all know on this blog, there can be a multitude of reasons why someone is not teaching well, or maybe not as well as they used to. That teacher, once identified, gets help from a Consulting Teacher, who is a long time teacher of that subject. The two teachers work together for a year on helping the teacher become better, in whatever area(s) they need help in. At the end of the year, the PAR panel decides if the teacher has improved and can stay, or if the teacher should then be let go.

Bringing on new teachers is an expensive process and a big investment for the local community. Canning them after some bad test scores, without first trying to help that teacher correct any deficiencies, is a waste of taxpayer money. PAR helps preserve that investment.