Throughout the nation schools are continuously trying to develop more effective ways of assessing a teacher’s performance within the classroom. Although all teachers are college-educated and licensed, examining their abilities to produce a rich and meaningful curriculum, provide adequate learning resources and create a productive structure and climate are equally crucial.
Teachers in Center Grove are mainly evaluated based on observations by the administrators and a culminating portfolio teachers provide each year. While these methods are effective, certain questions remain unanswered. Are students left to teach themselves the majority of the material? Do the teacher’s methods guarantee that students will efficiently retain the material? Do students look forward to learning?
A tool that would aid in providing explanations to all these unanswered questions would be allowing students to grade their teachers. Students interact with teachers the most and are the most dependent on a teacher’s instruction, yet their voices are neglected when it comes to teacher evaluations.
The idea of whether students should be allowed to grade teachers is sharply divisive among teachers and students.
“I don’t think that students’ opinions on teachers should have a direct effect on their job,” junior McKenzie French said. “There are several students with agendas and personal vendettas that could purposely harm a teacher’s career. Evaluations can be taken into consideration but should not have a direct effect on their salary or job.”
On the other hand, many students feel that their input is a necessary component in deciding the job security of a teacher. Many students feel that the evaluation process already in place is insufficient.
“I think that it would be a good idea because it would help the school have better teachers and the teachers would work harder,” junior Haley Kiefer said. “I think it should be part of the evaluation process along with the administration evaluation just because some students might be biased towards the teacher, but I think it would be beneficial because the students really know the teacher and having a staff member come in and evaluate the teacher puts the teacher under pressure and they might not act like they normally do. The students actually know about their teaching style not just based off of one day.”
Teachers also have varying opinions on the matter. Although always looking for ways to improve and evolve as vital parts of the classroom, teachers might not always want their job security in the hands of an angsty teen.
“I think it’s important for teachers to get feedback from their students, and I normally have students do an evaluation of me and my teaching at the end of the year. I don’t think it should necessarily have to with if a teacher gets to keep their job or get a raise,” German teacher Barbara Gnagy said. “On the other hand, I think that teachers should use student evaluations to reflect and see how the students perceive them, how they interact with students, how teachers are presenting material or if students feel like a teacher is treating everyone fairly. If student evaluations were tied to job security I would want to know more about it in terms of how the checks and balances would work.”
Center Grove has a plethora of methods to evaluate and assess teachers. The portfolio process has four different domains for a teacher to do well in that includes classroom culture, student interaction, parent communication and professionalism.
If a teacher is highly effective they receive a bonus. If they are lacking in their abilities, they are put on an improvement plan that includes meeting with a principal and starting an improvement process. If a teacher still does not meet certain goals after the improvement process they are asked to look into a new job.
“I think the idea of a ‘grade’ is probably not the right word, but I think giving an evaluation and feedback would be useful because the kids see teachers and know what’s going on in the classroom on a daily basis,” assistant principal Tricia Ferguson said. “The only problem with that is that the student brings with them a lot of previous ideas about the teacher. Also, how well a student does in the class shapes their view of the teacher because students who struggle in a class rarely say ‘Oh my teacher was great!’”
Students and teachers alike should find different ways to reflect and improve from past experiences. Teachers grade and evaluate students so they can assess how far a student has come and necessary steps to take in order for a student to succeed. Student evaluations may be able to offer new perspectives and insight into how a teacher can improve their daily role in a student’s education and how they can become better with each new set of students.