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Student Perceptions of Teacher Effectiveness

Over the past year or so, we've talked a lot about principal, administrator, and peer reviews of teachers here at Teacher Beat. But what about students themselves? Can they offer valuable insights into which teachers are the most effective?

Quite a few school districts, New York City among them, perform comprehensive reviews of the school environment that include student-survey information. Typically, though, these surveys take place at the building level, rather than at the individual classroom or teacher level.

But a few instances of classroom-based surveys, including questions about specific teachers, do exist: The Knowledge Is Power Program schools use it as part of their"healthy schools" project, for instance.

And at least one national study is trying to gauge whether student reviews are correlated with other measures of teacher effectiveness.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching study (click here for my writeup in EdWeek), will include a classroom-based student-survey measure in which students report on conditions in their own school, such as whether their teacher uses multiple explanations of topics and makes learning interesting. The measure is based on the survey component of the Tripod Project, founded by Harvard University's Ronald F. Ferguson.

Of course, using this type of feedback for research or general informational purposes is still quite different from including it in a formal teacher evaluation. So now I pose the question to you: Do you think it might be appropriate to solicit student feedback when reviewing a teacher's performance?

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