Senate considers Student Evaluation of Teachers Bill

By Chris Erspamer
Published: February 2010

The South Senate has begun working on a proposal that would make mandatory teacher evaluations by students.

The measure would provide students with the opportunity to give input on their class’ policies through unanimous surveys at the end of the school year. The Senate is also considering midterm evaluations.

Senator and junior Rachel Leshin, who included student evaluation in her platform during the 2009 Senate elections, is spearheading the bill. After realizing that she and her fellow classmates found certain classes less enjoyable, Leshin was motivated to create the Senate’s three-member Student-Teacher Evaluation Committee.

Although some teachers do allow their students the chance to submit feedback in June, they are a minority, and according to Leshin, many students refrain from taking issues up with their teachers or department heads due to fear of reprisals.

“I’m surprised our school doesn’t already use student evaluations, Leshin said. “They are used in many other high schools and universities, and teachers here should be receptive of them.

The assessments will likely take place online, so that data and trends can easily be analyzed. Student participation is expected to be optional, but the Senate has discussed the possibility of certain incentives–such as encouraging teachers to have the evaluation forms count as extra credit–that may be put into place.

The committee is working on writing down a concrete version of the bill, after which the Senate would vote on it and send it to Principal Joel Stembridge to sign.

Although the bill’s specifics are yet to be determined, the actual measure seems likely to pass. The Senate is unanimous in attempting to ensure its passage, and according to Senate President Ben Chelmow, Stembridge appeared to be favorably disposed towards the idea when he was first informed of it.

“We do not yet have a specific date as to when the proposal will be able to pass, Chelmow said, “but I don’t think it will take more than a few weeks, and we’re aiming at getting the student evaluations implemented hopefully at the end of this year.

The measure so far has not generated any opposition among teachers, many of whom have expressed interest at the idea of standardized assessments.

“It would be fantastic to get periodic feedback from kids as to what works and what doesn’t, math teacher Leslie Quattrini said.

Latin teacher Alice Lanckton already gives student evaluations twice a year.

“I learn the most about teaching from my students, Lanckton said. “Their comments help me figure out which techniques are more helpful for the class in general.

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