Inspired by a 2010 study that found that students’ feedback about their teachers helped predict how well the teachers' students performed on state tests, New York City asked some schools last year to test out a student survey that could become part of new teacher evaluations.
But if the city and its teachers union agree on a new evaluation system this year, student surveys are unlikely to play a role, according to people on both sides of the negotiating table.
The Gates Foundation-funded Measures of Effective Teaching study found that student feedback and teacher observations combined were more closely correlated with teacher effectiveness than observations alone, or any number of other attributes of teachers.
The city participated in that study and adapted the survey used in it, called Tripod, for use last year in 10 of the 108 schools in the Teacher Effectiveness Pilot, meant to test possible components of overhauled teacher evaluations.
Under the state’s new evaluation law, 60 percent of teachers’ ratings must come from subjective measures such as principal observations and peer reviews. The State Education Department has said student surveys can play a role, too, if districts and their unions agree.
The head of the state’s teachers union says student feedback could be a useful element of evaluations. But city union officials say they are staunchly opposed to incorporating student feedback in teacher evaluations.