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Should Kindergartners Be Required To Rate Their Teachers?

Should Kindergartners Be Required To Rate Their Teachers?

Kindergartners in Georgia could soon play an important role in deciding which teachers get raises or get fired.

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.

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57 comments

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7:43PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

I don't know if they have the ability to understand the questions they are five and six years old. 'What is wrong with the way they have done it in the past?

7:36PM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Until class sizes become small and intimate again and kids get a chance to really know their teachers, and parents also get a chance to know the teachers, this is impracticle. I worked in a school (a small, wonderful public school) for 12 years. It's my observation that you just cannot standardize a child's relationship with their teacher. There's so much more going on in the classroom besides learning the ABC's and who Louis and Clark were. These are human beings whose minds and intellect are developing, and, until the 12th grade, they are balancing their relationship with their parents with their relationship with their teachers and their school. K-12 isn't just about teaching the facts, it's about helping raise children. Is there a standardized test for parents?

11:43PM PDT on May 28, 2012

They are too young to even understand what "rating" means.

11:28AM PDT on May 28, 2012

Em.. I see that most of people here are against this evaluation. You know, I agree that some students may just not like a teacher for the marks they receive because of their own ignorance and laziness or because of any other unworthy reason, however if they just could speak up about the teacher's treatment, whether he or she explains the subject understandably or not, etc., it could make a difference. Good one, I suppose.
Perhaps I just have this opinion because I've had several teachers who did absolutely NOTHING! They just came to the lesson and either asked us to copy every single word from a textbook to a copy-book or sat in front of us reading or writing something while we were freely chatting with each other. Can you name THOSE the teachers if I've got nothing from their lessons and now have problems with the subjects? And the trouble was that we couldn't change the situation. So I wish we had the practice that is being discussed here then.

9:23PM PDT on May 27, 2012

This is disgusting. Students simply do not have the professional background to judge a teacher. When is this nonsense going to stop?? When are the politicians going to stop interfering with education and start deciding to actually do something about poverty-which has been proven to be the biggest factor in education?

9:22PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Kids are too young to do this; especially when it puts someone's job on the line! Sheesh, I can't believe they are really considering this...

4:31PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Ridiculous!

1:13PM PDT on May 22, 2012

unbelievable

1:12PM PDT on May 22, 2012

unbelievable!

8:08AM PDT on May 22, 2012

Will be interesting to see the results of the pilot project, how well kids' answers coordinate with adults' perceptions. But kids' answers should not be used to rate the teachers.

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