How effective are student surveys in teacher evaluations?

Professor Eric Camburn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison reviewed “Asking Students about Teaching” for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project. The review was published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

Camburn’s own research focus is on instructional improvement, particularly in urban schools, and he has studied the use of survey methods to measure school improvement outcomes.

Camburn said he agrees that student surveys could be beneficial and that the report “contains many practical pieces of advice that are sensible and worth putting into practice.”

He cautioned, however, that the report’s claims of a strong relationship between student survey results and teacher effectiveness are not supported by evidence in the report itself.

Camburn further warns that a “broader limitation of the report is that many of the findings and conclusions are presented too uncritically and without sufficient justification.”

“Developers of the MET Project embrace the idea that multiple measures of teaching effectiveness are needed to represent such a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon,” he said. “However, in discussing the potential uses of student surveys, this report’s stance is lopsided, placing too much weight on the strengths of student surveys and not enough weight on their weaknesses.”

For more news about teacher evaluations, see:

Strike highlights division on teacher evaluation

Bill Gates: The keys to effective teacher evaluation

Video becoming a key tool in teacher training, evaluation

Laura Ascione

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