North Carolina is spending $600,000 in federal grant money to give students a voice in rating their teachers. The money comes from the Race to the Top program and is being spent on consultants to prepare an effective survey based on Harvard University's research of effective teaching. The international consulting company Cambridge Education is being hired to make sure the tests don't feature any kind of popularity contest and instead focus on what their teachers actually do.
The upcoming pilot program will go live in 29 school districts this Spring and include a sampling of 150,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade with tests designed specifically for the age groups that will be completing them.
There will be 30-question and 90-question surveys, paper and online versions. The youngest students will be asked to circle pictures or yes/no answers, while older ones will use agree/disagree scales.
There is no decision as yet on how to incorporate the student survey results into teacher evaluations however a condition of the grant requires the state to use student performance data to craft a new standard. It is unclear at this stage whether this metric will be based solely on test scores or whether student views will also be included.
Teachers who participate will be able to view their collated results and there is hope that the new surveys will provide guidance as to the areas teachers and school should focus on to improve.
"We think it will be good feedback from someone other than their principal," said N.C. Department of Public Instruction Chief Academic Officer Rebecca Garland.