By Alex Qian
This year, New York City schools will be using a new teacher evaluation system. The new system will include student evaluations and will continue to emphasize standardized test scores and in-class observations.
Previously, teachers were graded as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory, based solely on test scores, school measures, and in-class observations. Now, however, grades will include highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective.
The student evaluations, which will be done through surveys, will not count the first year but will count the following year for three percent of the entire evaluation.
“[The students] should have a say,” said Physics teacher Christian Corrao. Corrao believes that this new method of evalutation is fair to both students and teachers. A few bad reviews and good reviews will cancel out, but if there is a consistent trend, then that is an indication of what the teacher is like.
In addition, he noted that teachers could use the evaluations to improve their abilities. Many teachers already give their own end-of-year survey to see what students think teachers can improve on.
However, Corrao expressed the difficulties in grading teachers. “What makes a good teacher? Does staying late after school mean that someone is a good teacher?”
Alexandra Bowers, a Mathematics teacher, also believes that the students should be allowed to evaluate their teachers, but expressed some concerns about it. “There could be one or two students in the class who negatively influence it, and it may create a negative vibe within the whole class,” she said.
Additionally, she noted that the survey is not operationalized. “What counts as a 4? 5? It’s like the Likert scale (a pain scale), a 10 for me might be completely different than a 10 for you.”
Bowers, who gives her own end-of-year surveys, also noted that some students evaluate the course instead of the teacher. When she read over her surveys, she had to ask herself, “Is this me or the course?”
Eynna Qian ’14, a Chemistry major, believes that grading teachers solely on tests can be misleading.
“If the only basis is testing, there are always students who are lazy, and others who do everything they can to get a good grade. In many schools, it averages out, but in Tech, there’s probably more of the latter,” she said.
Just by being in class everyday, students can give observations about their teachers that no in-class administrative evaluation or test score could ever provide.
For the first time in city history, students are about to grade their teachers.