Why Kids Should Grade Teachers

Amanda Ripley for The Atlantic:

A decade ago, an economist at Harvard, Ronald Ferguson, wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who see them every day—their students. The idea—as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses—was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. Even among kindergarten students. A growing number of school systems are administering the surveys—and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions.

I actually like this idea—although, I can definitely see the counterarguments. Opponents can—correctly—argue that teachers will spend more time trying to be popular than effective. I’m sure it would be a bureaucratic mess to implement and the unions would never buy in.

In my experience, however, students tend to be fair in their judgement of their teachers. Charismatic, but ineffective, teachers fall from grace quickly. A hard, over-demanding teacher can end up being one of the most widely respected teachers in the building.

While I do wish education was more of a meritocracy—I have a family to feed these days—it’s not a potential link to salaries and promotions that interests me. At the end of the day, your students are your customers and it’s worth getting an honest opinion of their assessment of your teaching—even if that assessment is a sobering one.

I think I might integrate some kind of evaluation system for myself in the near future. I’ll report back on how that works out.