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FAQ





Basics

What is PAR?

PAR stands for “Peer Assistance and Review.”  It’s a program that started in Boston in 2014 but has been around in other school districts across the country since 1981.  PAR may be a good fit for you if you received a less-than-Proficient rating on your most recent evaluation.

Who is my primary evaluator in PAR?

A Consulting Teacher will be your primary evaluator.  Your principal/administrator will serve as a secondary evaluator.  Secondary evaluators may upload observations and artifacts, but only a primary evaluator can create a formative or summative evaluation.  

What is the role of my Principal or Administrator in PAR?

Once you enroll in PAR, your principal/administrator serves as a secondary evaluator. Administrators meet with you and your Consulting Teacher regularly during your evaluation cycle and may also present evidence to the PAR panel during the final deliberation.  

Is PAR a real evaluation?

Yes.  PAR means that you’ll have a second set of eyes evaluating your practice and a second set of hands supporting you in your planning and giving you feedback along the way, but it is also a real evaluation.  

How do you measure success in PAR?

We measure our success in two ways: helping teachers to improve their evaluation ratings and also surveying our teachers and administrators to make sure that PAR is living up to our mission of providing an evaluation that feels fair, transparent, and humane to all stakeholders. See Track Record for more information.

What’s your success rate so far?

So far, we’ve helped about 50 percent of our teachers earn a Proficient rating.  We’ve helped about 90 percent of our teachers stay on the job (either with a Proficient rating or additional time for continued support).  More than 95 percent of teachers and principals surveyed felt that the process was fair, transparent, and humane.

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PAR Process

What happens while I’m in PAR?

PAR is built around a reiterative loop of coaching, observing, reflecting and assessing your performance.   Consulting Teachers will work with you to identify areas of improvement, develop specific performance goals, support and monitor your progress, collect evidence, and make evaluative judgments.  This process can last from 6 months to one year.

What is a parley meeting?

There are at least three "parley" meetings during the PAR cycle, between you, your Consulting Teacher and your administrator(s). These are chances to check-in on progress and make sure that everyone is on the same page.  Typically, they happen at the start, middle and end of your evaluation cycle.

How will my evaluation cycle end?

At the end of your evaluation cycle, the Consulting Teacher will recommend a rating to the PAR Panel. You and your administrator will see the recommendation before the PAR Panel meets.  You and your administrator are both invited to submit other evidence to the panel (either in writing or in person).  Then, the PAR Panel deliberates and votes on a final rating recommendation. This rating is then submitted to the Superintendent for final approval.


Eligibility & Enrollment

Am I eligible to join PAR?

  • PAR is for teachers with more than two years of experience in BPS.  Teachers in their 1st or 2nd year are not eligible for PAR.

  • PAR is for teachers on a Directed Growth, Improvement or Developing Educator evaluation plan. Teachers currently on a Self-Directed plan are not eligible for PAR.

  • PAR is for teachers with an evaluation plan that is at least 6 months long. Teachers with an evaluation plan less than 6 months long are not eligible for PAR.

  • If you are not eligible, we may still be able to provide support through a “consultancy visit.”

Why do you require a 6-month or longer plan to join PAR?  

A plan of 6 months or longer gives you adequate time to get intensive support and grow professionally.  If you’re on a shorter plan, you may want to sign up for the PA program, which has no plan-length requirement.

Can I sign up for PAR if I am an SPC (Suitable Professional Capacity) teacher?

Yes.  If you are a BTU member and you meet the other eligibility requirements, then you can join the PAR program.

Can I sign up for PAR if I am nurse or CoSESS?

Yes.  PAR is part of the BTU collective bargaining agreement and can support “teachers” in non-classroom settings. If you are a full-time employee and a member of the BTU, then you may be eligible for PAR

Can I still get support from PAR even if I’m already “Proficient”?  

Our primary goal is to support teachers who are not currently rated Proficient.  However, we are sometimes able to meet with other teachers who just want some feedback or short-term coaching.  If you’re interested in one of these “consultancy visits”, fill out the PAR Contact Form and check the “Informal observation/consultancy visit” option.

How do I enroll in the PAR program?

First, fill out our PAR Contact Form to let us know that you’re interested in talking to a Consulting Teacher.  During that initial meeting, we will review the basics of how PAR works and answer your questions.  If PAR sounds like a good fit, you will next talk with your BTU Field Rep to review the PAR Agreement and understand your rights and responsibilities as a BTU member in PAR. Once you review and sign the “PAR Agreement Form” then you can be officially moved to the PAR caseload.

More Support Options

What are the differences between PA and PAR?

Boston also offers a separate program called Peer Assistance (PA) that provides the coaching and counseling but not evaluation. Both PA and PAR pair you with a veteran BPS teacher who gives you individualized coaching and support. Both PA and PAR work with you and your administrators to improve your skills and your evaluation rating.The three main differences between PA and PAR are:

  • Evaluation:  PA offers peer coaching.  PAR offers peer coaching and evaluation.  

  • Eligibility:  PA can support you even if you’re on a short eval cycle.  PAR is only for people with a 6 month or longer plan.

  • Enrollment.  Sign up for PA at mylearningplan.org.  Sign up for PAR on our Enroll page.

Why can’t I work with both PA and PAR at the same time?

You cannot work with both the PA and PAR programs at the same time. It’s a way to make sure the support resources are available to everyone who wants them.

What other supports are available?

  • Evaluation workshops are offered by the BTU on Saturday mornings and during the summer.  These give participants a chance to learn more about how the evaluation process works and get 1-on-1 guidance on how to create artifacts, address prescriptions and navigate the EDFS process. Contact the BTU for more information.
  • You may also want to check out our blog and resource pages where we are sharing documents and ideas that can help you improve your practice.


Principal/Headmaster/Administrator Questions

What is the role of principals/headmasters and administrators in PAR?

  • Administrators can observe and provide feedback as a secondary evaluator and add to the Educator Development & Feedback System (EDFS).

  • Administrators can present evidence to the PAR Panel during the deliberation.

  • Administrators will also set the initial timeline for the evaluation cycle.


How will administrators be kept in the loop a teacher is in PAR?

  • There are at least three "parley" meetings during the PAR cycle, between Consulting Teacher (CT), Participating Teacher and administrator(s).  These are chances to check-in on progress and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

  • PAR encourages principals to be as involved as they want to be.  In some cases, the administrator wants to continue to observe regularly.  In some cases, the administrator is happy to let the Consulting Teacher be the sole observer.  Ideally, there’s at least one chance for the CT and administrator to observe together.  

  • Administrators will also have the opportunity to preview and respond to the summative evaluation draft before it is approved by the PAR Panel.


Can an administrator force a teacher to enroll in PAR?

PAR is a voluntary program, which means that the teacher decides whether or not they want to participate.  Administrators can share information and encourage teachers to learn more about their support options, but they cannot require a teacher to enroll.


Can an administrator forbid a teacher from enrolling in PAR?

No.  PAR is a collectively bargained right for all BTU members.  If a teacher meets PAR's eligibility requirements and wants to join, then they are contractually permitted to join PAR.  


Consulting Teachers & the PAR Panel

Who do the Consulting Teachers work for?

PAR is jointly supported by the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools.  The Consulting Teachers are BTU members who are temporarily assigned to the Boston Public Schools Office of Human Capital.  They are supervised, hired and evaluated directly by the PAR Panel.  

How can I work as a Consulting Teacher?

Consulting Teachers are veteran teachers who commit to at least 2 years of supporting other teachers across the district.  Consulting Teachers are members of the Boston Teachers Union and cannot take a job as a principal or assistant principal in the district for at least one year after working as a Consulting Teacher.  Job openings will be posted on our Blog and on TalentEd.

How can I join the PAR Panel?  

The teacher members of the Panel are appointed by the President of the Boston Teachers Union and serve 2-4 year terms.  The principal members of the PAR Panel are appointed by the Assistant Superintendent of Human Capital.  

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