1994 Finalist
City of New York, New York
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards
New York

In 1987, a United Federation of Teachers (UFT) needs-assessment questionnaire indicated that a significant majority of instructors felt that less effective teachers stood to advantage from the assistance of their more competent colleagues. Sandra Feldman, president of the UFT, in summary of the report’s findings stated that, "Teachers want all professionals in a building to be qualified; they do not want poor teaching, poor attitudes, or teachers who give a bad name to the profession."

The New York City‘s Peer Intervention Program (PIP) was developed to benefit tenured teachers who were struggling to function in the classroom. The purpose of this collaborative effort between the Board of Education and the United Federation of Teachers is ultimately to improve instruction of New York City’s public school children, and restore the public's faith in its schools.

PIP gives collegial assistance to teachers in difficult, unrewarding circumstances. Program participation begins with the signing of a collective bargaining agreement that mandates that non-evaluative support is fully confidential and disallows for supervisory observations during the first three months. Participating Teachers (PTs) and Peer Interveners work together for up to one calendar year to address instructional issues, and should PTs wish to explore other career avenues, aid is available through the Alternative Careers Liaison in a dignified and humane manner.

PIP utilizes a vast range of activities, jointly developed by the Intervener and the PT. Instructional activities include observation and critique, explanation, demonstration lessons (modeling), development of lesson plans and sometimes curriculum, research and practice of effective classroom management strategies. To effect these changes, PIP uses audio- and videotaping, photography, and student questionnaires. Additionally, PTs are asked to maintain professional reflective journals. Interveners schedule visitations with "star" teachers on site and in other schools as well as conferences and tutorials as needed.

From September 1988 to June 1989, PIP worked with 57 teachers. Twenty-six had been rated Unsatisfactory ("U") in June 1988, and 23 others had received formal warnings of impending "U" ratings. After intervention, 38 PTs (78 percent) of the 49 PTs who had received "U" ratings or Formal Warnings now received Satisfactor ("S") ratings. Similar changes in ratings characterize PIP's efforts in 1992-1993. In June 1992, 9 PTs were given "U" ratings and 22 others were rated "S" but formally warned of upcoming "U" ratings if significant improvement was not forthcoming. The following June, after completing intervention, 5 of the 9 "U" rated teachers were rated "S", and 20 of those previously formally warned (91 percent) received "S" ratings, but without any such formal warnings.