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Survey of students about student surveys yields mixed opinions

Student opinion surveys seem unlikely to play a role in the city’s teacher evaluation system, even as research suggests that they can provide valuable information.

The city Department of Education piloted student surveys as part of its preparation for new teacher evaluations, and the head of the state’s teachers union says student feedback could be useful in helping to rate teachers. But city union officials say they are staunchly opposed to incorporating student feedback in teacher evaluations because the information could be skewed and could encourage teachers to put student approval ahead of student learning.

But what do students think about what they can contribute to teacher evaluations? The students GothamSchools surveyed last week at a reception for award-winning math and science teachers had mixed opinions about whether their peers could accurately judge the quality of their teachers.

Should student survey results factor into teacher evaluations?

“I think some students would be negative because they have anger against a certain teacher, so when it comes time, they might put bad stuff. But at the same time, as students, we are able to look at what teachers are able to bring to the table in terms of skills and personalities.” —Raymond John, senior at Gotham Professional Arts Academy

“Yes, if it really were to affect the way that a teacher will teach in the future, then students wouldn’t be biased and would actually say their real opinions. But that’s if a student cares about doing well.” —Rebecca Boorstin, senior at LaGuardia High School for Music and Art & the Performing Arts

“I think it would be a positive thing. I think we can [give accurate responses] because in our school we already do surveys and we try to make both the students and teachers come together, and we debate and state our opinions and they accept it sometimes.” —Kiayia Washington, senior at Gotham Professional Arts Academy

“I don’t think so. There’s a survey about the school during the year that we do, and none of the kids take it seriously because we get it at a random time and only have two minutes to fill it out.” —Fallon Boles, senior at LaGuardia High School

How can you tell when you have a good teacher?

“A good teacher is someone who is eager to teacher about the topic, and who is willing to have fun. It’s the look on their face, the expression, and working with each student individually, and getting them to understand the topic more.” —Raymond John

“I think that a teacher needs to root for their students, especially if they’re passionate. … Of course the homework and the tests are important, but it’s really about getting us to care and by being passionate about the subject and wanting us to care about the subject more than just get our work done, then that’s how you know they’re a great teacher.” —Cody Kostro, senior at LaGuardia High School

“A teacher should not only care about the subject their teaching, but also be interested in the students themselves. What’s the point of being a teacher if you don’t care about kids or like talking to kids? I feel like a lot of teachers do not like kids.” —Rebecca Boorstin