STAFF EDITORIAL: Making the Grade

Providing feedback in the form of As to Fs is standard practice for teachers for their students. However, students should also be allowed to evaluate teachers, administrators in the same way.

More stories from Tom Tom Staff

The Arrow: Fall 2023
September 29, 2023

As students, we are often times defined by just a simple letter: an ‘A’, a sign of hard work and intelligence; an ‘F’ a sign of failure or laziness. Students become used to working towards a certain letter after spending most of their lives being evaluated mainly, if not solely, by grades. If grades are such an essential part to the measurement of success in a student, then why are students not given an opportunity to grade their teachers, likewise?

Surely, just as there are good students and bad students, there are good teachers and teachers who could use improvement.  School systems around the country have set evaluation procedures for teachers, whether it be observation by administers and other staff, or by the success rate and growth of the student body as a whole. Community High School District 117 recently updated their evaluation system, which will ultimately include student growth and performance. But why are students not included in the evaluation process as well? Students spend the most time in the classroom with the teacher–anywhere between 90 to 180 periods a year; and, ultimately, students are the ones who will either fail or succeed based on the abilities of the teacher, coupled with their own drive to succeed.

Many college students use websites such as Rate My Professor to essentially ‘grade’ their professors, but these grades are just simply for the convenience of prospective students of the professors to refer to when choosing their teachers and classes. In high school, the system doesn’t work that way. We are unable to pick teachers, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What students truly need is an opportunity to grade their teachers in a way that will be considered by administrators, whether it be through a survey, questionnaire, or talking personally with an administrator. The goal of student-teacher grading should be to help teachers improve in order for students to get the best education possible, much like the goal of a teacher’s for his/her students is to help them improve and be successful moving forward.

In the midst of this conversation, the point was brought up that students who didn’t like a teacher–for any particular reason or grudge they may be holding–could simply “sabotage” a teacher during an evaluation. While outliers do exists, much like on standardized tests (something that consistently measures us, successful or not), and that is simply not going to be the case. Even if there is one student holding a grudge, the one poor grade they give to a teacher will be merely brushed to the side if the rest of the teacher’s grades are positive. There are plenty of students who are willing to give honest and constructive criticism and feedback to create a better learning environment for themselves, future students and the teacher’s colleagues.

We implore and encourage administrators to allow us to help gain insight on their teachers. The result would not be a negative bashing of teachers, but, rather, constructive criticism to make the learning environment tailored to the best it can be for each student. Ultimately, this could provide an opportunity for us to continue to thrive as a school and improve our standing in the county, in the state and in the country.