With the end of first quarter in our recent past, we would like to propose the present as the optimal time for teachers to seek evaluations from their students and to implement a new system of teacher evaluation. While it is most common for teachers to ask for feedback from their students at the end of the semester, this method is ill-timed, and delayed. In addition, current student-written evaluations are rarely shown to have an effect,and oftentimes only certainly selected surveys are passed up to the teachers’superiors.
The majority of teachers issue an evaluation at the end of the semester. Although the majority of classes offered at Palo Alto High School are year-long, some are only for a semester, in which case an evaluation at that time would have absolutely no affect on the students. Teachers give students performance feedback all the time as grades, so reasonably, the two-way nature of this feedback should begin before the end of first semester. Student-teacher relationships would only benefit from this communication, which would make sense to start when teachers report student performance quality — quarterly.
In theory, evaluations collected at the end of semesters could help improve the class for future semesters; however, the method by which the evaluations are collected and read are not effective whatsoever. Arguably the largest issue at hand is the process through which the responses are recorded and implemented. Since the evaluations are completed by the students and given directly to the teachers whom are being evaluated, what often occurs is that many instructors will review and edit the evaluations before turning them into the head of their department or an administrator, weeding out the unfavorable evaluations. This practice, which censors students voices instead of encouraging improvements to teaching methods, renders surveying practically worthless.
The Campanile thinks that the surveys should be online, created by the administration, with the teachers unable to view or edit the results. Only a universal survey for all classes in a department will get results applicable to each teacher. After reviewing the survey results the administration should release the results for the department as a whole to the public.
In addition, we suggest aspects of evaluations be revised. The surveys should have universal elements such as “fairness of grading,” “how it is compared to other classes in the same lane,” “teaching style” among others.
The Campanile believes the entire process of teacher evaluation should be drastically changed. Surprise teacher evaluations, advisors read written student evaluations, student complaints should be taken into consideration.
We believe teacher evaluations given by administrators should be surprised visits, rather than planned. When teachers know that they’re to be evaluated, the entire purpose is defeated. Of course, when teachers are expecting to be watched and evaluated in class, their lesson plan for that day will probably not be an accurate depiction of what an everyday class period is like. Having these come as a surprise to teachers would help to display an accurate class experience.