Use student ratings in evaluating teachers

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Although nearly every major college and university requires students to evaluate their teachers at the end of each semester, many high school students are denied this opportunity.

A well-designed student assessment can provide reliable feedback on teacher effectiveness. Teachers who receive good student evaluations tend to produce students with significantly higher test scores, according to studies. State law should encourage high school surveys as one component of teacher evaluations so that administrators can better remedy shortcomings in teachers who receive negative feedback and reward and retain teachers who receive positive feedback.

Unfortunately, state policy in the U.S. is at best ambivalent and at worst hostile to student evaluations of high school teachers. Although a few states, including Massachusetts and Georgia, mandate the incorporation of data from student surveys into teaching evaluations, student surveys are either expressly prohibited or are rarely administered because their legality is in question in 33 states. In Connecticut, individual districts may include student surveys in teacher evaluations, but it is not required.

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