To Student Survey Or Not To Student Survey

To Student Survey Or Not To Student Survey

Our State Board of Education has an overall impressive resume!  We have several attorneys, teacher of the year, a General, a CPA, and many other impressive accomplishments.  How can it be then that not one of these members asked for evidence student surveys improves teacher effectiveness or improve student outcomes? How is it that not one board member  understands student surveys are human judgements and therefore NOT a quantitative measure?

Oklahoma State Board of Education, Dec 17, 2015 accepted, in part, the TLE Commission’s recommendation to add measures to the Quantitative part of the teacher evaluations.  I say, “in part”, because the State Board decided to reject the TLE Commission’s recommendation to NOT add Students Surveys as a quantitative measure and the State Board in their wisdom ADDED Student Surveys as an optional quantitative measure to evaluate teachers.  Stay with me here, they make it complicated on purpose.  Read about the failed vote on Student Surveys by the TLE Commission here.

Listening to the State Board rationalize why Student Surveys should be added was excruciating!  Board Member , Bob Ross brought up Student Surveys when the TLE report by Robyn Miller, Deputy Superintendent for Educator Effectiveness & Policy Research,  was presented and they were absent in the recommendations. Board Member Bill Price, chimed in on que that Tulsa Public Schools uses this, and “…if done properly it ascertains the quality of teaching from the students…”  Why did no one at this point ask if Tulsa Public schools has increased student outcomes or increased the number of effective teachers in the last 5 years they have been giving student surveys? Where is the evidence this works?  General Baxter  did ask a few questions: what age are these surveys given; Is it a written survey;  Does this turn into a popularity contest? Good questions General, however please next time ask for technical reports validating any arguments given to support the claims instead of taking vague statements for fact!  Bill Price assured the other board members the surveys are “done in a good way” and are given to “even young kids” and “no, no, … it is not written”.  WHAT?  They are written, they are given to children as young as Kindergarten and what is the definition of “done in a good way”.  Read here many concerns about students surveys from teachers in Tulsa  Public schools. Joy Hofmeister, who also Chairs the TLE Commission, and Robyn Miller let all of these statements  stand as fact and  not correcting these erroneous statements is negligent.

There have been TLE working groups to discuss all the quantitative options presented. I have attended all of these meetings, either online or in person. The researchers brought in for the student survey group were all representatives of companies trying to sell their student surveys! There were no neutral researchers presenting.  In fact, such a researcher, Dr Audrey Beardsley, was requested to present at a TLE meeting but was denied by the OSDE.  Why?  Dr Audrey Beardsley did present at Representative Park’s interim study on October 7, 2015 ( Dr Beardsley begins at 1.06 min) and again in person November 3, 2015 ( Dr Beardsley discussing student surveys begins at 1.59.30).  Over 30 superintendents were present at the November 3 meeting as well as legislators and others.  The first point Dr Beardsley makes about Student Surveys is they are NOT quantitative.  Student surveys are self reports; human judgements.  Applying a number to these human judgements does NOT make them quantitative.  It is subjective.  And in fact Bill Price said this during the Board meeting, …” it’s really pretty subjective…”  How then can this be quantitative? Dr Beardsley looked at how TPS is using student surveys and has concerns how TPS has “reformatted” the instrument for use.  This destroys the reliability, validity, and consistency of the data. Hear Dr Beardsley explain  in this video of her presentation.  Her portion on student surveys begins at 2.00.00 min.

Any school that has the funds can choose to give student surveys as an observation of the teacher.  We do not need this in law and  using student surveys as a quantitative measure is  flat out wrong .

Please call your Oklahoma State Representative and Senator and tell them this does not need to be in law and  leave teacher evaluations to the districts!

Lynn Habluetzel