A teacher from Montgomery County, Maryland, describes its innovative ad successful way of evaluating teachers in a professional way: with support and professional judgement, but not test scores. The state of Maryland had the misfortune to in Race to the Top funding, so the PAR program was found unacceptable because Arne Duncan demands test scores as the necessary measure of teacher quality.

She writes:

“Hi folks. I’m from Montgomery County which Diane references at the end of her blog. The PAR program we have in effect is fair, clear and spells out 6 Standards (and an additional Standard for school leaders) which provide a “rubric” for good teaching practices/skills. The standards are based on the book, “The Skillful Teacher,” by Jon Saphier, Mary Ann Haley and Robert Gower. As new teachers enter the county, they are asked to take The Skillful Teacher I and II PD courses valued with credits which clearly spell out the expectation MC has for it’s teachers. They are supported by teacher leaders in our schools as well as a Consulting Teacher outside of the school and connected with our union. If the new teacher or one who is tenured is found not to meet a standard, they typically have one year, with supports in place, to address the skills they are lacking. At the end of many observations, a PAR panel comprised of principals and teachers decide if they continue with their position in the county.

“Maryland rejected our county’s proposal to the state however, to evaluate teachers based on the PAR because it did not include using test scores as a part of Race to the Top. The county’s next steps are to be determined.

“As change is being pushed across the country in education, by other folks who clearly don’t have an understanding of what good practices in teaching are all about, can I suggest we, as educators find a solution to our individual issues in pockets across the US and WE take initiatives to advocate them. I often find myself complaining about what is wrong, just as many people on the outside of the education establishment complain about what they see as wrong…they’ve come up with a plan…what have we done?”