Making a Difference. . .
"Most evaluations are perfunctory instead of perceptive, ritualistic rather than rigorous. They fail to yield benefits for the experienced, competent teacher and nearly every-one involved recognizes this. Why still do what we know doesn't work very well? If one major purpose for teacher evaluation is professional growth, then why not base the system on that purpose? Don Raczka, interview 1994 U.S. Department of Labor
The Poway Professional Assistance Program is a collaborative effort between the Poway Federation of Teachers and the Poway Unified School District. Under the umbrella of an Educational Policy Trust Agreement, the program is directed by the Poway Federation of Teachers and the Poway Unified School District through the Governance Board.
The first of its kind in California, the Poway Professional Assistance Program (PPAP) is patterned after a similar program in Toledo, Ohio. In 1986 Don Raczka, then a Twin Peaks Middle School mathematics teacher, researched and reported on the Toledo plan through his Mentor Teaching Project. Don traveled to Toledo where he observed the program and had numerous discussions with teacher consultants, administrators, and classroom teachers. Although the Toledo school district was three times the size of PUSD, Don determined a similar program could work in Poway.
Don believed PPAP could really make a difference for new teachers in Poway Unified. "I felt very strongly that our teachers could benefit from having an experienced consultant spend time with them. Combined with a desire to focus my mentor project on something that had a real impact on the profession, this feeling motivated me to pursue the program," said Don. He wrote a series of lengthy reports for both Dr. Robert Reeves, then Superintendent of Poway Unified and for the president of the Poway Federation of Teachers.
Working outside the collective bargaining arena, the groups entered into a trust agreement. The agreement promotes teamwork for the attainment of common goals, in this case, effective support and evaluation of new teachers.
The PPAP Governance Board not only manages the new teacher program, but has responsibility for two programs targeted toward experienced teachers, the Alternative Evaluation and Permanent Teacher Intervention Programs. Both were also developed under the leadership of Don Raczka, now president of the Poway Federation of Teachers.
"We know that people learn better when they are not isolated. Isn't some thoughtful dialogue with a trusted colleague about what you are learning the best way to ensure that learning takes place?"
Charlotte Kutzner, Past Program Director