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The Importance of Student Voices

November 14, 2012

Do you hear what I hear?

When I was teaching I finished each term with students filling out a self-evaluation where they reflected on themselves as learners and even suggested a “final grade” for themselves. I learned a great deal from their comments and perceptions. It provided me with a sort of test on how well I knew my students as they viewed themselves.

At the same time they completed a “teacher evaluation” where they provided me with feedback on how I did as a teacher in several categories from knowledge of content to how well I delivered the concepts to fairness and communication. Of course, they had the chance to give me a “final grade” as well. I promised them that I would not look at them until after I had completed their grades so I would not in any way allow myself to be influenced. I loved doing this at the end of the year because I would take that pile of 100 or 200 teacher evaluations to the beach and smile, laugh, and most often learn from their comments.

Here we are in this era of teacher evaluations transforming and in many states teachers are being viewed through the test scores of their students. Have you given this any thought? I have mentioned Legislative Document (LD) 1858 in an earlier post which is called An Act to Insure Effective Teaching and School Leadership. This law

  • Requires school administrative units to develop and implement a performance evaluation and professional growth systems for teachers and principals.
  • Sets forth standards that must be met by these systems, including a requirement that multiple measures of effectiveness must be used in evaluations, including student learning measures, that evaluators must be properly trained and that a system must include a process for using information from the evaluation process to inform professional development.

To read the entire law (LD 1858) Public Law Chapter 635 please click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the ENACTED law dated April 5, 2012.

In a recent blog post on Public Engagement and Ed Reform blog writer Stu Silberman shares ideas on students providing feedback and the notion that students should perhaps grade their teachers. Using test scores to determine how well a teacher is doing, but what can students tell us? I know from experience that students can tell us a great deal. After all, aren’t they the ones who really know best especially as they grow and change and learn? I suggest you check out his blog post since it includes food for thought as well as links to others ideas.

More than anything, I hope that you are well informed and consider being on your districts team or committee when it is formed to help tackle this issue.

2 comments

  1. Correction……..maybe not middle level students…..but you are still teaching! : )


  2. You know, I find myself saying: “I am going to school” (when I am headed off to the office) or “I am almost finished my school work” (when I have one more blog post to write). You’re correct, I am still teaching in so many ways.
    Perhaps it is time to ask the field for an evaluation. Throughout the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) I have asked for feedback to determine if the MAAI is providing opportunities that make an impact. In a sense that is what is taking place when I ask: How are we doing?!



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