Student Surveys: Asking Those In The Know

A new Bellwether paper takes a look at the state of play and potential around student surveys as an evaluation and climate tool for schools (pdf). Despite all the noise about observations (which are noisy) and value-added (which is limited in it reach and what it tells evaluators), student surveys may offer a rich and reliable path forward for schools.

6 Replies to “Student Surveys: Asking Those In The Know”

  1. Glad that Bellwether is looking at the use of student surveys. In my former CMO, we incorporated student surveys into the teacher evaluation process and it was largely well received.

    The challenge was really in implementation. The student survey instrument used in the MET research was simply too long so we stripped out questions which I’m sure changes the reliability/validity statistics. Further, we didn’t have the technology infrastructure to administer online surveys so we had to go with paper. The logistics of distributing, collecting, and scanning paper surveys can certainly be daunting.

  2. Not only do student surveys offer a reliable way to identify high performing teachers, but they empower students and improve teacher-student relationships school-wide. At our pilot school we conducted student surveys at the end of each semester. Poorly performing teachers didn’t wait to be asked to leave, they voluntarily left at the end of the school year because they realized our school was not for them. Students feel ownership in the school when they have even the tiniest say in which teachers stay and which teachers leave.

  3. At the secondary school in which I currently work, student surveys are done as a part of the teacher evaluation process. I agree with the comments above about how it empowers the student body and gives teachers an honest snapshot of how they fit into the culture of a school. From an administrative angle, I find it to be the most informative part of the process. I have noticed that the best conversations I have had with teachers are sparked from the information that students provide. It helps bring a third-party perspective into the evaluation conversations, and teachers are usually more willing to grow from what their students say than what an administrator may have to offer. It is honest and it is helpful. One reason for this is that students spend time in the classroom with their teachers every day of the school year, while an administrator on a large, comprehensive high school campus may only spend an entire class period in a teacher’s room twice a year – once for the fall evaluation and once for the spring. And while it can be tricky (especially if the electronic tools are not available), it is very worthwhile. At my current site, students’ teacher feedback was a part of the process long before it began to be done electronically, and was as worth it then as it is today.

  4. Liz, who trained you to translate the cognitive and maturation level of the children at your school to one you or any other adult might understand? Is there a chart or a metric or a trick that I can use to measure the empirical veracity of an adolescent utterance, however complimentary?

  5. I think student surveys are a great way for school to detect who are the high performing teachers in the school. Also, student surveys allow students to reflect about their teachers. This can also act as a learning experience to the student.

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