Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Utility (or Futility?) of Teacher Report Cards

Every year, I gave my students an end-of-year survey, asking them to rate me on a variety of attributes...helpfulness, clarity, smell, etc..

But this year I stopped...for several reasons.

First, I never really felt like I got anything out of it. At the end of the year, many of my kids go into one of two modes. Either they're really nostalgic and they want to tell me how much they love me and my class. (This is very understandable. I'm very lovable.) Or they couldn't care less because the summer vacation is upon them and they don't want to be bothered. Either way, the feedback never felt very accurate.

Second, a lot of the information was either too ambiguous or complaints about how I should have fed them candy. Some were dissatisfied with the fact that I didn't let them sleep.

Third, and this is a big one, I feel like I've been constantly getting feedback throughout the year, whether I wanted it or not. I see what my students learned. I know what they liked and didn't like. They tell me every freaking day! Why would I give them one more outlet for this?

I'm not saying these report cards aren't worthwhile. In the past, I would always use them as a starting point for all of the changes I would make the following year. But I think it's more important that teachers gather feedback throughout the entire school year, reflect, and constantly make adjustments. If you do this, you don't need to do an end-of-year survey.


  1. Ha!! I just left this comment on Matt Vaudrey's post about his survey:

    "You’re a better man for giving out the survey. I wouldn’t do it. Who cares what they have to say. I rule the class and that’s all that matters."

    And you can ask Andrew what my response was when he shared his survey results with me.

    I'm 100% with you on this. Only that I'm more lovable. Recently I've had to stop them from always applauding when they like something I say or do. It's annoying to receive their constant adoration like this :)

  2. I think something to consider is what you might do with the results of the survey.

    For example, I asked: "Next fall, your friend tells you he/she has Mrs. Yenca for math. What do you say?"
    The responses to this question were quite diverse, and I used them to help create a not-so-boring first day of school presentation to show my new students in the fall. To add to these "text" responses, I also asked students to make brief video clips filming themselves giving advice for my new students. Then, I threw the survey quotes and student vids into a 3-minute iMovie. These perspectives from former students who just completed my courses (rather than perspectives from only myself) will make an impression moreso than another teacher droning on about rules and expectations on the first day of school.

    Another thing to consider is giving a survey and asking questions if something new was implemented in a particular school year. This was my first year having 1:1 iPads, so I valued feedback about all the different things we tried this year, and how I could do things better next year. This year was a HUGE learning curve for students and teachers, and giving kids an outlet to look back at the entire year was a perspective I valued. Results were a mixed bag, and sometimes the only thing I learned is that you can't pleae everyone, but it made me more aware of some things I can "tweak" next year.

    This was the first time I've given a "teacher report card" so perhaps over time the value of doing something like this may change, but for now, I'm very glad I gave it a go!

    1. Thanks for the response Cathy. I think the way you're using the survey is great and I'll have to reconsider doing it based on what you said. My problem was that I always read the results, thought, "hmm, that's interesting", and then quickly forgot about it. I didn't want my students putting time into something that I didn't take that seriously.
      A neighbor of mine across the hall does something similar with responses, and puts them on a bulletin board for the next year's classes to read. In theory, this sounds great. I just wondered how effective it was.
      Thanks again!

  3. Ack! I read this post too late and gave my survey last week. Results were exactly what you said they would be!

    1. I think Cathy (above) has some good suggestions for how to make this worthwhile.

  4. I definitely think that student surveys are really helpful at various points of the year. I posted my survey results from Q1 in a blogpost back in November. I do see all the points about not giving one at the end of the year. It loses its excitement after the first two times, and half the kids will just refuse to do something that won't directly affect them or their grade, especially if it's anonymous like my Google Docs surveys are!