Students Rating Teachers: Assessing Quality Requires Measures beyond Test Scores

By Dyrli, Odvard Egil | District Administration, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Students Rating Teachers: Assessing Quality Requires Measures beyond Test Scores


Dyrli, Odvard Egil, District Administration


Throughout my career as a secondary school teacher and teacher-educator, I asked students to submit anonymous evaluations to assess the quality of my teaching. And even though my university required official teacher evaluation forms, I still collected additional data to find out how individuals valued assignments, class activities, presentations, discussions, handouts, teaching materials and required texts. Students rated and commented on the specifics of every course I ever taught, and I made improvements in content and delivery based on learner feedback.

I was therefore encouraged by recent reports from the "Measures of Effective Teaching" (MET} research, a three-year $50 million project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (see News Update page 19). Researchers from the Educational Testing Service and several universities targeted the study to define great teaching and promote new procedures for evaluating and developing teacher competencies. The study found that students could be strong sources of information, and asserted that evaluation systems in districts would be improved significantly through the involvement of peer teachers. The researchers concluded that teacher assessments should feature repeated classroom evaluations by multiple trained observers, be fused with professional development options, and include input from students beyond test results. Students were deemed reliable judges of teacher effectiveness.

In recent years, there have been numerous proposals across the country to tie the evaluation of teachers to test scores exclusively, which to me is misguided and incomplete. Furthermore, in-class observations are too often hurried visits by overworked administrators with limited experience in assessing and developing teacher skills, so these are hardly conducive to professional growth. In contrast, students who are in classrooms all day may help pinpoint teacher strengths and weaknesses that do not show up in other assessments. …

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