Student Surveys Can Help Evaluate Teacher Effectiveness

Article excerpt

As the student voice on Hawaii's Board of Education, I understand that we are asking more of students than ever before, and we hope our teachers continue to strive to be highly effective instructors. The Tripod survey is just one of four parts of the Educator Effectiveness System (EES), which is now in its second year of being piloted at 81 schools.

Opponents of the student survey claim that lower-achieving students or ones who have it out for a teacher can skew results; however, Harvard University researchers designed the survey with safeguards against malicious responses. This survey is currently being used in 23 states and many school districts as part of new teacher evaluations. Research involving more than 3,000 teachers showed that the use of student surveys is the strongest predictor of effective teaching.

So, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser makes a premature and misguided assertion that the use of student surveys in giving teachers feedback on their performance is problematic ("Don't overrate student feedback," Our View, Feb. 1).

The survey's framework is based on identified targets for student engagement and elements of teaching practices. That means the survey generates information about how students experience teaching practices and learning conditions in the classroom, as well as information about how students assess their own engagement.

Researchers found that the survey cuts across socioeconomic lines to give students an equal voice about their classroom experience. …