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"A" for Effort?

We all know the feeling of your heart dropping to your stomach when you get a notification from PowerSchool. Whether your grade rose or dropped, there is a teacher behind that notification. If we need to be graded, should our teachers also receive grades from students?

It’s natural for students to have some discrepancies with their teacher or teachers, whether it is the style of teaching or a situation where students are not treated equally. Unfortunately, staff members do not always take students’ concerns into account. This can lead to a student’s unnecessary failure in the class or a significant problem in the student’s mental health. One common solution, usually proposed by students, is the implementation of grading for teachers.

Some informal websites already have this feature, such as Rate My Professors. This website allows previous students to give their college professors ratings out of 5 (being the best). There are 3 categories: Overall Rating, Would Take Again, and Level of Difficulty. Students can also insert tags describing the professor. For example, some tags commonly found are “lots of homework,” “Skip class? You won’t pass,” ‘tough grader,” “group projects,” “hilarious,” and “respected.” Those who rate their professors may leave a comment as well to tell in detail about the professor and his or her class. This is great for college when you can choose your professors, but in high school you don’t get that option. Rate My Professors is also made mostly for students, so faculty and administration may not look there for feedback from students. Maybe a necessary grading system from students for teachers is the solution.

If schools were to implement a grading system for teachers, the student would be able to grade the teacher on criteria such as difficulty, character, learning, and assistance. Not every student has time to fill out 8 papers, so every student should fill out at least two grading forms at the end of each quarter. Since the grading scale for students may be too tedious for the information in the grading, the scale may be 1-5 for each category, 1 being the least and 5 being the most. Therefore, if a teacher in a CP class had a low passing rate, they could be categorized as a 5. This would help faculty know that the teacher may be making the class more intense than it needs to be. The “character” category would address the teacher’s behavior towards the student. A kind teacher would receive a 5, whereas a rude teacher may receive a 1 or 2. The “learning” category would be how much you feel like you’ve learned in that class from that teacher. 5 would mean you learned a lot, and 1 would mean you felt like you didn’t learn anything. The “assistance” category would be based on how much the teacher was willing to help a student whether during class or outside of class. A teacher would hope for a rating of 5 in this category and fear a rating of 1.

Finally, the student would have to explain all of his or her answers. This would give the faculty an even better idea as to what is going on in the classroom. There should also be an “other” category at the end of the survey so students can leave any other comments, concerns, or praises to the teacher they are grading. This would be submitted to faculty and administration electronically with the name and grade of the student and the grade they have in that teacher’s class.

After all grading forms have been reviewed, administration will talk to each teacher about their classes and what they could do to improve. In this meeting, student names will be anonymous as to what has been said, unless their comment involved a serious allegation. This is a great opportunity for administration to keep in touch with faculty.

Unfortunately, there are some students who refuse to do the work but blame it on the teacher. This would have to be taken into account when faculty and administration are reviewing the grading forms. Students may be bitter because they have a low grade in the class, which may motivate them to talk badly about the teacher. However, these are only the outliers in this context, and in a small school like GMC, most administrators are familiar with students, so a few bad reviews for the teacher will not hurt them, just as most teachers say “one bad quiz grade won’t hurt you.”

Grading teachers could potentially solve many problems in the school system, because it would be a great way for students to have a voice and be listened to and understood. School is basically pointless if the students aren’t actually learning, so it is good to understand how students are doing.

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