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September 3, 2010

students as part of the accountability puzzle

Yesterday, I suggested alternatives to holding teachers accountable on the basis of test scores. Just a few hours later (by coincidence), I was shown an interesting initiative from the Boston Public Schools. All Boston high school students will soon begin completing "Constructive Feedback Forms" about their teachers each semester. These very carefully constructed surveys do not ask the students to rate their teachers as good, bad, nice, smart, or by any overall measure. Instead, they ask a whole series of very specific questions about teaching practices. How soon after the bell does the class get down to work? How many students participate in discussions? In what ways does the teacher provide feedback on homework?

The union and school system endorsed the policy, which is pretty modest because only the teacher receives the anonymous results. It would be interesting to consider sharing the results in some form with administrators, mentors, or other colleagues. I see the disadvantages of those ideas, but they are worthy of experiment.

Another fascinating aspect of this policy is its origin. Students on the Boston Student Advisory Council developed it--both the outline and the details--and succeeded in persuading the Boston School Committee to approve it. Those students are supported by Youth on Board (a nationally recognized nonprofit) and by the school system's Office of High School Renewal, so they perform excellent, well-informed, and effective work as.public leaders.

September 3, 2010 7:51 AM | category: none



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