Student critiques have limited value to teachers

October 13, 2012

Regarding Michael Hicks’ [Sept. 24 column], teacher evaluation frameworks are being used effectively in many states. Marzano’s, Danielson’s, or Stronge’s frameworks evaluate how well teachers teach content and engage students in the content. They have been correlated to professional development training for improvement such as KDP Connect (entirely research-based and online).

I see some real drawbacks to having students evaluate their teachers:

• If a child does not like to do something, he will announce loudly that you are a bad parent or teacher or that he hates you. However, some of those teachers we disliked as children turned out to be the ones we later remember as pushing us to our potential.

• Students have no idea what they will need to know when they get out of school. Teachers who involve students in activities and research mirror real-life. That entails hard work, which some students may not understand or care to do, so their evaluations of that teacher would be low.

• Some students’ personalities clash with a teacher’s personality. The teacher is not bad; the student is not bad. However, the student’s evaluation of the teacher often is low.

• Our schools host a growing number of immigrant children. In most cultures, teachers are held in high esteem and are above reproach or questioning. Evaluating their teacher is not understood by these students and their families.

Current evaluation frameworks grade teachers on things not entirely in their control. Just like the park service employee being evaluated on the miles of trail cleared and bee stings of other workers, teacher evaluations often include scores for numbers of students who improved and by how much in reading or math on standardized tests, and most teachers get marked down for overusing the classroom management technique of sending students to the office.

We work with more than 600 colleges of education (Kappa Delta Pi is an international honor society in education). We are seeing drastic changes and hearing requests for helping teachers to learn better ways of interacting with 21st century students and preparing those students for life as well as teaching for all the high-stakes testing.


Sally Rushmore,
managing editor, New Teacher Advocate, Kappa Delta Pi


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