Montgomery County School District has gotten a lot of attention for its successful efforts to improve graduation rates and narrow the achievement gap. But Montgomery is also a model for collaboration between teacher unions and administrators, and it provides a strong argument against corporate-style reform efforts that antagonize and seek to dismantle unions.
A great piece in the Washington Post details some of Montgomery's successful programs to increase teacher quality and foster collaboration. It's "Peer Assistance and Review" system pairs new or struggling teachers with mentor teachers who provide assistance and performance reviews. Teachers that fail to improve through this system within one year can be fired, but their cases are handled jointly by a committee of teachers and administrators.
The county has also criticized other hallmark elements of corporate-style education reform, including merit pay and rating teachers based on test scores, and it refused to apply for the federal Race to the Top grant. The grant, like high-stakes testing and merit pay encourages competition and conflict rather than collaboration.
The Washington Post piece is well worth a read. You can check it out here.
Also, be sure to check out "Straight Talk on Teacher Quality," a new guide from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which highlights Montgomery's Peer Assistance and Review program. You can download the guide here.