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Volume 31, Number 3
May/June 2015

Learning from Our Students

Surveys offer performance feedback to teachers


Quaboag teacher Billie Moberg (right) reviews her student survey results with Principal Colleen Mucha.

Most teachers are accustomed to feedback from principals and coaches, but some have started hearing from the people who know them best: students. Last year, over a million K–12 students took surveys developed by educational services companies to rate how well their teachers teach, and many others took locally developed surveys. A growing number of states and districts allow the use of these surveys as part of teacher evaluation systems, and a few even require their use. For example, student surveys account for 5 percent of teachers’ evaluation scores in Memphis and for 15 percent in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

“Students watch us deliver lessons every day and can make observations that help expose blind spots in our practice,” explains Greg Myers, superintendent of schools in Millbury, Mass., who oversaw a student survey while he was the principal of Quaboag Regional High School in nearby Warren.

The trend is driven, in part, by studies suggesting that surveys are valid and reliable predictors of student outcomes. For example, they were stronger predictors of achievement gains than any other assessments studied in the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, including classroom observations. The selection of teacher effectiveness measures has taken on new urgency since President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative required that states’ applications include teacher evaluation systems. In this climate, student surveys are becoming a frequent complement to other teacher effectiveness measures. They are also driving professional development.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

Measures of Effective Teaching:

My Student Survey:

Panorama Education:

Student Perception Surveys and Teacher Assessments. Washington, DC: Hanover Research, 2013. Available online at