Dec 14, 2013 by

Evaluate-Your-Schoolwork-Step-1“Letting Students Evaluate Their Teachers: Bad Idea”

by Donna Garner



Texas is developing a new teacher evaluation system that will possibly have students evaluate their teachers (article from KERAnews.com posted below).


Heaven help the teachers who actually demand excellence if students are allowed to evaluate their teachers. Can you imagine immature students evaluating their teachers?  I can see it all now.  Teachers would try to become “Mr. Popular” by allowing their students to play on their techie toys all day!  For sure, those teachers would get the highest evaluations.  There would be only a very small percentage of Advanced Placement students who might have the maturity even to recognize excellence in their teachers, but the at-risk students who live from one moment to the next without any long-term plans would be the first to criticize any teachers who actually held them accountable for doing their homework, paying attention in class, and studying for their tests. 


This idea of having K-12 students evaluate their teachers is a pie-in-the-sky idea from people who have not taught in our public schools for many years if ever (e.g., Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles).  Many administrators have never taught at-risk students or difficult-to-handle classrooms with emotionally disturbed students in them (certainly not in recent years), and allowing these same administrators to develop a teacher evaluation system where students do the evaluating would be a true disservice to classroom teachers. 


I am also very concerned about having students evaluate teachers knowing how cruel and uncivil students can be through their social media.  Not long after I retired from the public schools, a public website sprang up that allowed students to evaluate their teachers.  Teachers whom I personally knew to be outstanding teachers with high academic expectations for their students were evaluated on this site with blistering attacks that would have wounded any conscientious teacher.  I could not believe the ugly things that were posted, and I knew personally that these incidents were prefabricated lies by these students. This group of immature, lazy, rebellious, and uncaring students (feeling very bold to post anonymous statements) proved to me that they could certainly not be trusted to evaluate teachers honestly and truthfully.


As time has gone by, the lack of respect for teachers by students has deepened; and bullying of both students and teachers has increased. Can you imagine the feeling of power that bullies in these classes would feel if they knew they could destroy teachers through their student evaluations?  In some schools, teachers already live in fear of their students because of the lack of disciplinary enforcement.  Think of what it would be like for a teacher to know that if he holds students to high standards, he might very well bear the brunt of their wrath at the end of the year when they evaluate him.       


My own brother is a professor of graduate students, and even he has seen examples of immature, adult students who give their professors poor evaluations because they blame the professors for making them work hard.  If grown adults cannot be trusted to give fair and mature evaluations, how could we ever expect young children to do so? 


I realize that HB 5 and HB 866 have destroyed the accountability system for both students and teachers. Any thought of tying teachers’ evaluations to their students’ STAAR/End-of-Course scores has been lost because the tests will not be given at the end of each grade level/course. However, having students evaluate their teachers is a completely wrong-headed idea because of the lack of maturity of young students, many of whom live for the moment and do not see the big picture. 


All of us can remember those teachers in our lives who inspired us (usually through expecting us to work very hard); but the sad thing is that if we had had the power to evaluate them while we were young and immature, we probably would have downgraded the very teachers who ended up blessing our lives by holding us accountable to develop self-discipline, a solid work ethic, personal responsibility, and self-control.   


By the way, how many parents would want their children to evaluate them and have those evaluations made public for all the world to see?  How would those evaluations look for parents who have legitimately tried to help their children live by certain disciplinary rules and have had to enforce the natural consequences when those rules were broken?  


Donna Garner






12.2.13 – KERAnews.com



Texas Is Changing How It Assesses Teachers. What Will It Look Like?

By Bill Zeeble


Excerpts from this article:

The Texas Education Agency’s been looking at new ways to assess teachers for three years now. The Federal Department of Education demanded teacher evaluation changes in exchange for granting the state waivers tied to the No Child Left Behind law.

TEA Commissioner Michael Williams says the state is looking to help improve what he calls student growth – a broader measure of traditional evaluations like test scores.  

“Irrespective of the background that a youngster has, irrespective of the challenges at home, or whether the parents are engaged in his or her learning or not, we do expect that teacher to move that child in some positive direction. And that’s why the focus is on growth. So what I would say to those teachers is, you’ve signed up for a job where you’re going to have to move that student along. And that’s student growth. And that’s what we’re going to focus on.”

Williams calls this all-day meeting at Grand Prairie’s Dallas Baptist University just the first of many statewide conversations about changing teacher evaluations. Grand Prairie Superintendent Susan Hull hopes Williams looks at a system called TAP. She’s testing the Teacher Advancement Program in three of her 41 schools, and says it focuses more on teacher growth.

“…on teacher effectiveness measurements, on helping teachers reflect and become better teachers,  instead of coming in, one day, looking at what the teacher’s doing that one day, and evaluating that teacher for an entire year on just a performance of a lesson for one day.”

Hull says the current system is based on a one-day-a-year visit and it’s time for a change. Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles is working on changing his district’s assessment plan, which would include student input.

“There seems to be some interest among my colleagues and teachers and principals for doing something like that in their district.”   

Commissioner Williams is considering it.

“I think there’s an opportunity to design a system where student evaluations of their instructors will be a part of that.”

Williams says this discussion about a new statewide teacher evaluation system will play out over the next year or two. Monday’s seminar was the first of five meetings he wants to hold across Texas. He hopes to roll out the new plan in two years. 



Donna Garner


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1 Comment

  1. Teacher with a Brain

    On this matter, I agree with Donna. Excellent points.