Senate works on teacher evaluations

By Hye-Jung Yang
Published: May 2010

The South Senate recently passed a bill for a teacher evaluation system in which students will fill out two standardized evaluation forms for their teachers every year, once during midyear and once at the end of the year.

The evaluations for each department will be reviewed by its respective department chair, who would keep an eye out for certain trends or teachers receiving particularly bad ratings.

“[The bill] is essentially trying to give students more of a [chance] to voice their concerns or comments about a class and help to improve the classroom experience, Senate president Ben Chelmow said. “Teachers can take down what students are feeling and improve their classes.

Junior and Student Teacher Evaluation Committee member Rachel Leshin believes that one of the purposes of having teacher evaluations is to provide an anonymous way for students to contact their teachers.

“Some teachers say that if there’s a problem come see them, but that’s overly idealistic, she said.

The evaluations, which would most likely be put into effect at the end of this school year, will be mandatory for all teachers. The forms will include rating questions, such as for how well the teacher presented the material, as well as some short answer questions.

Due to the general nature of the evaluation forms, which will be standardized for all classes, there has been some concern as to their effectiveness in evaluating teachers across the board with the same form.

The committee, however, does not believe that this will be a problem.

“What I’ve seen of the evaluation is [that] it’s general enough that it can encompass all the different fields, Chelmow said. In addition, some teachers already have their own evaluation forms, which they may continue to use as long as the forms are approved by the Faculty Council.

So far, teacher response to this bill has been mixed. According to Leshin, some teachers from the Faculty Council were “very against anyone else reviewing [their evaluations], while others were enthusiastic about the idea.

“I think [teacher evaluations] would be fine as long as they are not used by the administration to punish or promote a teacher, history teacher Debbie Linder said. “They should be used by the teachers to re-evaluate how they teach.

“It’s going to take some talking because we have to get the evaluations right and more faculty perspective on it, Chelmow said.

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