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Gates Perspective On Student Surveys Was Bad, But Now It’s Getting Weird

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I have posted numerous times about how I use student evaluations in my class, their results, and why I think it’s a terrible idea to connect them to the teacher evaluation process (see The Best Posts On Students Evaluating Classes (And Teachers) ).

And, of course, The Gates Foundation has come out squarely in support of doing just that in their Final MET “Effective Teaching” Report.

Now, however, their recommendations have gone from being bad towards approaching just plain weirdness.

In a piece titled Ask the Students, Thomas Kane, the director of the Gates project, is suggesting that now it’s important to start “aligning the language of the surveys with the language of the teaching standards.”

Yup, this practice, in line with the particularly useless directive that some teachers are given to write the standards that are supposed to be covered that day on the front whiteboard, is really going to give teachers helpful information about their craft. How about this question:

Was your teacher effective in helping you learn to interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone?

Or how about:

Was your teacher effective in teaching you to integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words?

You can see my previous posts about the questions that I think are truly helpful — both to us teachers and to our students….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Humorous examples about what the student surveys could look like. That perspective is unusual, and I am not sure the language appeals to students.

    One large reason why this approach may not be the most effective is because students often do not know how to provide valuable feedback. At UClass, we are working to develop tight feedback loops between students and teachers, enabling students to learn how to give valuable feedback and providing insight to teachers on the efficacy of their assignments.

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