Thompson: Why Must All Data Become a Grade?
It is easy to see why the Gates Foundation seeks to add teeth to student survey data by making it a part of teachers' evaluations. The Atlantic's Amanda Ripley, in Why Kids Should Grade Teachers, began with the awful story of a student who never had a chance to express her judgments about school until she filled out a survey during her senior year. Ripley also cited the disappointing experience of Ronald Ferguson in persuading teachers to pay attention to survey results. Over a decade, "only a third of teachers even clicked on the link sent to their e-mail inboxes to see the results."
However, Ripley described a principal who benefited from surveys in a pilot program where he was unable to see the teachers names,"but he said he still found the information more useful than what standardized tests provided." “'It’s very, very precious data for me,' he said." Ripley then closed with the student's complaint about "some crappy teacher [who] is still sitting at that crappy desk."
To replace those teachers, however, we must do something about crappy school cultures. To create respectful cultures, a genuine conversation between teachers and students is required. We must not undermine the great potential of student surveys in guiding those discussions by attaching stakes to them. And once we engage in such a dialogue, I would have a modest proposal for a teacher who refused to read such data. Fire him.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.