Should Students Grade Their Teachers?

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.

Testing Travesty

Unsuspecting sophomores arrived to school last August ready to learn and do well in the new school year. However, a surprise awaited these students. The ISTEP test they had been taking since they were third graders and had been told ended for them as eighth graders, now extends to tenth grade.


Many parents, students and teachers wonder if the test was valid and necessary and if it truly does benefit students.


“According to the state, the ECA test is the graduation requirement test as of now,” assistant principal, Tracy McMahen, said. “But as of next year the ISTEP test will be the graduation requirement exam that they will have to pass in order to graduate high school.”


The ISTEP test does align better with AP exams and the material on the SAT but many are still questioning the reasoning behind reinstating the ISTEP. Lawmakers recently approved a repeal that will end ISTEP in 2017 and will find a replacement.  


“The ISTEP could be considered a better test than the ECA because it does provide teachers with more data on their students progress and academic needs. The ISTEP was also created by the same individual who wrote the Common Core and the new SAT,” English teacher Casey Tedrow said. “For the first time AP, ISTEP and Common Core curriculum are all lined up.”


Unlike the ISTEP, the ECA is a different test with a unique style from most of the other standardized tests that students were required to take. The ECA also did not provide teachers with any information on specific topics where students struggled.  


“The ECA scores would just state that a student struggled with reading, but this isn’t specific. Does this student struggle with making inferences, finding main idea, or answering questions that ask about a character’s motivation? Teachers just needed more information,” Tedrow said.


Sophomores this year are in the middle of finishing three rounds of NWEA progress tests, two rounds of ISTEP, one round of ECA’s–all of which occurred after the PSAT test. This puts the minimum amount of required tests for tenth graders at a grand total of seven. This does not include the AP exams, Accuplacer tests and the SAT or ACT exams that many sophomores will take. In one year, a sophomore student will be subjected to an average of nine rounds of testing.


“We don’t like taking the tests because people just get so bored of it which causes them to not do well because they don’t feel like trying,” Michael Morgan, a sophomore, said. “Plus they don’t test you on what you are learning now. I’m taking geometry right now and all of the questions on the ISTEP were from Algebra, which I took last year.”


Strong possibilities of decreased progress might result from the prodigious amount of tests given to students. Test fatigue and general frustration with the test content may have an impact on test scores.


“It helps that the tests show our progress and problem areas to teachers, but it is a lot of tests,” sophomore Dharma Allen said. “I know that a lot of the students get tired and just click through the tests and pick random answers to get it over with which doesn’t provide teachers with the most accurate results.”


There are many pros and cons that have been debated and discussed by lawmakers, board members, students, parents and teachers about the new standardized testing requirements. In essence, the standardized tests are given to help students prepare for college and careers. However, what is still unclear is if these tests truly are helpful to a student’s performance or whether the drawbacks overshadow the benefits.

Dress Code: Does it Shame Women and Promote Rape Culture?

Every day students everywhere wake up and go to school where they are taught important values about the world and about society. In school, we learn valuable lessons in class, such as effectively working in a group, working hard to get into a good college and, of course, the dangers of students wearing shoulder-revealing clothing in the classroom environment.

This assertion may seem rabble-rousing, but the sad fact is that this claim is not over exaggerated at all. And female students face the worst of it. Schools around the nation have sent and continued to send messages that girls’ bodies are a dangerous distraction and that they should be chastised for the harassment and jeering that they receive.

 ​Recent data shows that in the past five years at Center Grove High School the number of discipline referrals for dress code was vastly different between males and females. Only 49 men were disciplined for dress code violations in the past five years, while an alarming 288 women were disciplined in the same time span–a staggering 142 percent difference.

 “I have seen boys wearing jorts that obviously aren’t fingertip length, but they never get dress coded,” junior Bailee Leathers said.  “I don’t have a problem with “jorts”, its just the idea that they can get away with breaking dress code because they are guys.”

Schools throughout the nation have put bans on yoga pants, leggings, skirts and tank tops. Schools have even pulled female students out of class because their collarbones were too revealing. According to TIME magazine, a UK school plans to ban skirts all together.

But what is the main purpose of dress code? Why does it seem to affect women more than it does men?

“The dress code is to make sure that students are dressed appropriately so they won’t cause a distraction,” Deborah Bellian, an administrative assistant, said. “If it were a girl, especially, it would be a distraction to a boy because of hormones.”

​Many schools have had similar responses concerning the dress code. On numerous occasions, girls are told that their attire is too “sexualized” or “provocative” and that it may excite male classmates or cause male classmates to harm or intimidate them.

​“During my freshman year of high school, I still remember what a teacher said to me when I wore leggings to class,” junior Mckenzie French said.‘”Do you really want boys to look at you like that?’ When she asked me that question, I felt guilty and ashamed for something as simple as wearing leggings for comfort.”

This sends a serious message to not only students but also to society. It teaches children and the world, in general, that it is conventional for women to be objectified and sexualized and that it is acceptable male behavior to harass and intimidate women, that the victim is partially at fault.

This mentality in high school carries on to colleges where one in five women are sexually assaulted. According to a study from WFYI, Indiana ranks second worst in the nation in rape of high school girls.

​“A major cause is a lack of education,” says IUPUI professor John Parrish-Sprowl, who led a study on the underreporting of sexual assault in Indiana. “The state can’t rely on that education to happen solely at home.”

Many shrug off dress code inequalities as trivial or unimportant, but it creates great problems within society. By pulling girls out of class because they are too distracting to a male student’s education, one is insinuating that a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s. It also creates a world in which women are seen more for their bodies than their character or intellect.

In a world that punishes the victim of crude comments and harassment rather than the culprit, sexual violence will continue to become more rampant and destroy more lives in the future.

In Jesus’ Name We Play

In high school, most students are preoccupied with schoolwork, sports, friends and jobs; it is not common for them to found and operate their own business. However, juniors Trent Line  and Sam Bolin created not only a successful business, but one that contributes to community wellness. The idea for a faith-based sports camp developed in the fall of 2014.

“By a slip of the tongue I said ‘In Jesus name we play’ instead of ‘in Jesus name we pray’ after football practice,” Line said.

The simple mistake became the basis of a complex project. Line and Bolin began contemplating ideas about a non-profit and faith-based sports business.

“We had an idea that we wanted to turn it into something bigger and turn it into a business. We wanted to start trademarking it,” Line said. “We spent about a year or two just planning it and contributing ideas. For about a year or two nothing really happened.”

That was when a miracle answered their prayers. Rod and Carol Hervey, employees at the Center Grove Estates approached Bolin. The Herveys mainly work with the Center Grove Estate families and lead youth groups in the neighborhood.

“They had been wanting to do faith-based sports for a while but they didn’t have the means or the connections so we teamed up and the organization got started,” Line said. “After that we got over 51 volunteers and most of them were Center Grove athletes, which was great.”

In Jesus’ Name We Play was official. The camp was three weeks long on Tuesdays and Thursdays and lasted around 2-3 hours each day.

“The first week we did a volleyball program and Grove Volley sent us some volunteers to help with that. Then the second week we had soccer and the third week we had basketball. We got a bunch of volunteers from the school teams and that was a great blessing,” Line said.

The main goal of the program was to introduce ways to have fun to underprivileged kids who

Trent Line '17, Sam Bolin '17, and volunteer Gracie DeHaven '17 with some kids at the camp.

Trent Line ’17, Sam Bolin ’17, and volunteer Gracie DeHaven ’17 with some kids at the camp.

spent the majority of their time inactive indoors.

“As the organization grew we realized that the main thing these kids need is love,” Line said. “A lot of them have a rough family background and tough lives. Before school started we created a Back-to-School bash where kids from the Center Grove Estates and others from the community participated in games and devotionals and made friendships that would better equip them with the tools they need for a happy school year.”

Most of the money and equipment for the organization has been donated by sponsors and donors. The business is simple in the way it is run and does not consist of a corporate-style management team. Instead, the organization is more “home-based.”

Bolin’s mother, Lori, helps in technological outreach and marketing while Bolin and Line brainstorm ideas and contribute in face-to-face contact and promotion.

“We used the start-up period to establish the In Jesus Name We Play sports camp ministry in detail; we worked with a graphic artist to develop a logo, outlines for camps and conducted focus groups with several of our student athlete peers at Center Grove and got their input,” Bolin said. “We also put together a private website for volunteers to help them prepare to work at the camps.”

The three main values that the organization hopes to instill in kids are connecting with others, enhancing physical skills and further strengthening their relationship with Jesus Christ.

“We try to love them and show the the benefits of relationships and how Jesus Christ can affect their life on Earth,” Line said.

The non-profit organization has tremendously impacted the lives of many young people and hopes to continuously build and expand their goals and endeavors.