How can this work, since not all children in kindergarten are able to read?
According to The Washington Post, under a new pilot program, 5-year-olds will be guided through a survey that includes such statements as “My teacher knows a lot about what he or she teaches” and “My teacher gives me help when I need it.” As the youngsters circle a smiley face, a neutral face or a frowning face, they will be playing their part in new high-stakes teacher evaluations.
Kindergartners Making Decisions About Tenure, Dismissal, Compensation
Students in every grade across Georgia will participate in the pilot program, and, depending on its results, Georgia may incorporate the student feedback into teacher evaluations as early as next school year, when it will join such measures as observations by principals and student test scores. The state has yet to determine how much weight the student evaluations will carry in teacher ratings.
Evaluating teachers has become a hot topic recently, as a growing number of states are using value-added evaluation systems, meaning systems that use students’ standardized test-scores as one of multiple measures in decisions about teacher tenure, dismissal and compensation.
In Florida, for example, all districts must use value-added ratings for at least half of a teacher’s total evaluation score by 2014. Ohio districts will start doing so in 2013. This year in Tennessee, student test-score data will count for 35 percent of each teacher’s evaluation, and value-added ratings make up 20 to 25 percent of New York’s new teacher evaluation framework.
There’s already plenty of controversy about including these value-added scores in teacher evaluations, but should student surveys, for children as young as 5, also play a part in teacher evaluations?
Not A Popularity Contest
For me, the answer is a resounding “No.” Student feedback is important. It is also not a new idea. I routinely give my students a chance to evaluate my classroom instruction, and the results are often helpful and surprising. Last year I was astonished to have several ninth graders tell me that the class was going too fast for them, while I was worried that we were moving too slowly.
Getting my students’ feedback is invaluable, but it absolutely should not be part of an official evaluation. Just check out the popular website, Rate My Teachers, and you will see why. For most kids, it’s all about whether they like their teacher; they give good grades to the ones they like, bad grades to the “mean” teachers. The idea that such ratings could affect whether a teacher keeps her job, or how much money she earns, is scary.
And requiring five-year-olds to do this is unfair to everyone.
Student Surveys As 10 Percent Of A Teacher’s Evaluation?
The Washington Post reports that Georgia is the only state so far to consider using students to grade teachers, but individual school systems from Washoe County, Nevada, to Pittsburgh are launching similar pilot projects. Memphis already counts student survey results as 5 percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation. By the fall of 2013, that figure will be 10 percent in the Chicago public schools.
From The Washington Post:
Student surveys “can actually give you real feedback about where you can get better and how you can improve,” said Samuel Franklin, director of teacher effectiveness for the Pittsburgh schools. “It makes sense when you think about it. Students are in the classroom every day. They are experts on what’s happening in the classroom.”
I agree, but let’s not use the surveys to grade the teachers.
Photo Credit: greenlight for girls