I’ve found that receiving feedback from my students about the class and my teaching style has helped me become a better educator, and I’ve written several posts about it. I’ve also written extensively about it in my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work.
Today, the Boston Globe ran an article about how a similar process is going to be incorporated district-wide in Boston schools, School Committee OK’s student feedback on teachers.
That article got me thinking that readers might find it useful if I gathered all my related posts in one place.
I’d also love to hear from teachers who use similar formal feedback systems.
So, here are My Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers):
What Teachers Can Learn from English-Language Learners is a nice post from Lesli Maxwell, who is now posting at Ed Week’s Learning The Language blog. It’s about a survey another teacher did with students.
Feedback From Students Becomes a Campus Staple, but Some Go Further is from The New York Times.
The Flipped Classroom: Students Assessing Teachers is from Education Week.
Student surveys for children as young as 5 years old may help rate teachers is from The Washington Post. This ridiculous idea is just another example of how “school reformers” can take an idea that has great potential and warp it so everyone gets harmed.
Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement is by Heather Wolpert-Gawron is not an exact fit for this list, but it’s worth reading.
Take Student Complaints With Caution is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.
Asking Students about Teaching is a report from the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
This Is A Very Worrying Interview About Students Grading Teachers
Amanda Ripley wrote a feature titled Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, which parrots the typical school reformer line on using student evaluations in a formal teacher evaluation process.
Felix Salmon at Reuters wrote a devastating critique of her article and the whole idea in What education reformers did with student surveys.
It’s clearly a candidate for best educational policy post of the year. Here are some excerpts, but the whole piece is a “must-read”:
….along comes the Gates Foundation with a 36-question survey, severely chopped from a much longer one developed by Ronald Ferguson. Since there are 36 questions, the survey essentially measures teachers along 36 different axes, all of which are aligned with each other to differing degrees. In and of itself, that’s more useful than just measuring test scores, which are much less teacher-specific and which only provide one axis of educational quality.
But then what do the reformers do? They regress the survey answers against test scores, look at which survey questions align most closely with that test-score axis, and declare that those axes — the ones which test scores, by definition, are already measuring — must be the “most important”. Did you think that caring about kids was of paramount importance? Silly you! It turns out that caring about kids isn’t as correlated with test-score results as, say, whether the class learns to correct its mistakes. And therefore, we shouldn’t be worrying as much about whether teachers care about their kids; we should be worrying more about other things, instead. That’s what the test-score regressions tell us, so it must be true!…..
No! Stop! Do none of these people get it? What everybody wants, here, is better teachers. These surveys could be instrumental in helping to improve teaching. Teachers would be able to see where they score well and where they score badly, and ask themselves how to improve their scores in areas where they are weak. Principals could see which teachers were good on which axes, and set classes up so that students ended up with a balanced range of teachers. And generally, everybody could treat this data as an interesting and very rich way of improving educational outcomes.
Instead, reformers are rushing to use this data as a quantitative performance-review tool, something which can get you a raise or which can even get you fired. And by so doing, they’re turning it from something potentially extremely useful, into a bone of contention between teachers and managers, and a metric to be gamed and maximized.
Why Rating Your Doctor Is Bad For Your Health is from Forbes. There may be some parallels to including student evaluations of teachers in a formal evaluation process.
The Stability of Observational and Student Survey Measures of Teaching Effectiveness is a useful paper from USC Professor Morgan S. Polikoff.
Do the Best Professors Get the Worst Ratings? is from Psychology Today.
Better Teachers Receive Worse Student Evaluations is the provocative headline of a Harvard Business Review report on a new study. Since I’m also a big advocate of using student evaluations of teachers and an equally strong believer in their not being used in the formal evaluation process, I was going to pay to get access to it, but then I read this more extensive analysis of the research as the Chronicle of Higher Education. It sounds like its focus is on a more esoteric mathematical critique of how the results are used in colleges instead of broader discussion of the bigger problems behind their use.
Feedback is welcome.
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