RateMyTeachers.com Blog

Friday, January 21, 2005

Now parents can join kids in rating their teachers online

Now parents can join kids in rating their teachers online

By Rick Karlin
Albany (N.Y.) Times Union
January 21, 2005

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A Web site that enables students to rate and make comments about their teachers online is about to let parents in on the act.

The operators of Ratemyteachers.com are setting up a portion of their site where parents can rate the teachers, as well.

It's envisioned as an electronic version of long-standing, informal forums such as coffee klatches or PTA meetings where parents might swap information about which teachers are stars and which are dogs.

"We're kind of testing it out still," Mike Hussey, one of the site's founders, said of the new parents section.

The biggest challenge, he said, is making it as easy as possible for parents to log on and post comments, since they typically aren't as adept at navigating interactive Web sites as their kids.

"We'll make it a little easier," said Hussey.

Ratemyteachers.com has become a nationwide phenomenon since it was launched in 2001.

The site created an instant controversy, with teachers and administrators complaining that there was nothing to stop students who were simply unhappy with their grades from posting negative comments.

The site's operators say they use volunteer students as local administrators to edit out remarks that are vulgar or in bad taste.

Since its launch, Hussey said, close to 1 million teachers have been listed on the site, which is broken out by states and individual schools.

Some 1.2 million people visit the site each month, he said.

"It's been growing like crazy," said Hussey, who added that a similar site, Ratemyprofessors.com, has been started for college students who want to exchange buzz on their instructors.

One Brooklyn, N.Y., teacher contacted authorities in 2003, requesting that her name be removed from the site.

That never happened, however, after site lawyers successfully argued that teachers are open to scrutiny as public figures.

In what Hussey said was a backhanded sign of interest, plenty of schools block access to Ratemyteachers.com on computers in their buildings.

Most of the teachers listed on the site get positive comments, but there are always a few complaints, ranging from being too demanding to too lax.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Rise of Open-Source Politics

The Rise of Open-Source Politics

By Micah L. Sifry, The Nation.
Posted January 20, 2005.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Students give Chatham school teachers grade online

District school board puts no stock in site

By Larissa Barlow
Wednesday January 19, 2005

Chatham students are giving grades to their teachers by going online and rating them on everything from clarity to easiness.

The Washington D.C.-based RateMy-Teachers.ca, launched in the US in August 2001 and a month later in Canada, has provided students with a forum to express their opinions about teachers online.

The rating system allows students to log on anonymously, enter comments about their teachers and give them number grades out of five which are then available for all to see.

There are nine Chatham schools listed on the site.

“The whole concept of teacher accountability was making headlines,” said 26-year old site co-founder Michael Hussey. “And we just thought that the student voice needed to be heard.”

The site gets over one million hits a month from students across North America and as of last fall, parents can now chime in, leaving their comments about teachers on the site.

“There was certainly a big demand for a parent feature,” Hussey said of the many e-mails he received asking for a section where parents could rate teachers.
Though the site is mostly for students to leave opinions, Hussey hopes teachers will see all the comments and take them to heart, adapting their teaching methods accordingly.

“We want teachers to take these comments back to their class and open the lines of communication,” Hussey said. “Students want to be heard.”

But Gayle Stucke, director of education for the Lambton-Kent District School Board, said students are being heard through ministry-mandated teacher appraisals, not the Web site.

“The site is something that’s really meaningless,” Stucke said. “When it’s done anonymously on the Internet, you can’t tell how many times one person has rated a teacher. That person might not even be a student, so the data can’t be verified.”
Stucke said if students or parents have any type of comment about teachers, they should direct them to the school’s principal or the teachers themselves.
Input from students and parents is always recognized by schools, Stucke said, but the board would never use the site to look up a teacher’s rating. Formal written appraisals of teachers are done every three to four years and the board continually conducts ongoing evaluation of all staff, so schools would never use RateMyTeachers.ca.

“This Internet thing is someone’s idea of entertainment and it could be potentially career damming,” Stucke said. “I think the Web site is pretty shady, but I don’t have any concerns because most people recognize it as meaningless.”

But Hussey disagrees and urges that the site is not a place to bad mouth teachers or leave cruel comments, but a place where constructive thoughts are left.

“There’s a misconception of the site that it’s teacher bashing,” Hussey said. “But we work really hard to protect the teachers.”

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Online, students grading teachers

Auburn Journal, CA - Jan 6, 2005

Review web site's popularity surging, but not everyone likes idea

By: Ryan Sabalow, Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2005 4:03 AM PST

"Eww. No words can explain how much I hate this class," writes an anonymous Placer High School student of one of his or her teachers.

Another Placer student writes, "I like the man a lot. He is genuine. He is intelligent, and wants us to succeed. He is the best teacher I've ever had."

"(He) is extremely hard. There is only one person in my class getting an A. You learn a lot though," posts a third.

These are but three of the 6.7 million posted teacher ratings on the Web site www.ratemyteachers.com, where students pass judgement on more than 960,000 teachers at 43,000 schools across the United States and Canada.

The teacher-rating site, which gives students the opportunity to rank their teachers on the qualities of easiness, helpfulness and clarity and leave an anonymous comment about their performance, has surged in popularity in recent years, with the site's creator saying it receives more than 1 million hits a month.

However, local school officials are concerned about the site's trustworthiness and the fact that students can lambaste teachers from afar.

"My concern is that it's erroneous and not validated," said Dave Horsey, Placer High principal. "How credible is that?"

The site's creator, Michael Hussey, cofounder of ratemyteachers.com and its sister college rating site ratemyprofessors.com, said the site gives students a chance to have a say in their own education.

"For so long students have never had a voice," Hussey said. "One of the buzzwords in education is accountability. We said, 'well, aren't you forgetting one voice in the concept: The people who are the most affected by them every day?'"

Hussey said he teamed up with his partner John Swapceinski in 2001. At the time he was a student at the University of Maine, and decided students needed the chance to read others' opinions about professors before choosing a class.

But with the site's rise in popularity, some teachers question whether a site-appointed student moderator is the only person monitoring comments given by each teacher.

Hussey said many teachers have grown so concerned by the site that they've lobbied to have it blocked from campus Internet access.

Nearly 550 schools and 180 districts have blocked the site and are listed on ratemyteachers.com's "Wall of Shame."

Blocking the site is misguided, Hussey said.

"If people dig into the site, they see we read every single rating or comment," Hussey said.

At Placer High, Horsey said his school wouldn't be added to the "Wall of Shame" any time soon, but that didn't mean that the public shouldn't take the site with a grain of salt.

"I would take it like any Internet source," Horsey said. "Do your homework."

Some students take the sites very seriously.

A 2003 Placer High graduate, Derek Borow, used ratemyprofessors.com to choose his entire class schedule at Sierra College this semester.

He said many of the teachers are given consistent comments by students, which leaves a clear picture of what a class is really like.

"With multiple persons, you can see how many said good things and how many said bad," Borow, 19, said. "But you have to make judgements. You have to use some logic."

Kevin Bray, interim associate dean of student services at Sierra College, said students like Borow are becoming very common.

"Let's face it," Bray said. "We're all customers here, and they have a right to know what they're buying."

However, he advised would-be surfers not to rely on the sites exclusively to make a decision. He said the sites could provide a very helpful arrow in a student's educational quiver.

And while many teachers may be cringing to hear what students on site have to say about them, some teachers don't mind the negative feedback.

Of the 11 students who ranked Placer High math teacher Mike Schredl's profile, only two gave positive comments.

"If a student feels a certain way, why can't they express it?" Schredl said. "We can always improve."

The Journal's Ryan Sabalow can be reached at ryans@goldcountrymedia.com.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

PARENTS CAN E-RATE TEACHERS
By DAVID ANDREATTA
New York Post

January 2, 2005 -- A popular Web site that encourages kids to evaluate their teachers is now allowing parents to add their two cents.

Students in middle school and high school have been posting kudos and criticism for their teachers on the site, RateMyTeachers.com, since 2001.

But a new function permits parents of students from kindergarten through 12th grade to judge teachers on a scale of 1 to 5.

Parents are asked to comment on whether a teacher has clearly outlined what is expected in class and treats their child with respect to their needs.

"This is going to create a lot of back-and-forth dialogue and remind teachers that they need to engage parents as well as students," said Michael Hussey, 26, co-founder of the site.

Hussey said the site receives 1.2 million visitors a month and upwards of 30 e-mails a day from parents wanting to voice opinions.

So far, parents' comments on the site have been scarce, but that's probably because many don't know about it yet.

Paulette Dildy, a mother of a fourth-grader at PS 37 in The Bronx and vice president of the PTA, applauded the change.

"If there's one teacher who's getting a lot of negative comments, I'm quite sure we could take it to the principal and get something done," she said.

Others are skeptical of the anonymous comments and evaluations.

"It shouldn't be a substitute for personal dialogue with teachers," said Jacqueline Brown, whose son is in the first grade at PS 270 in Queens.

"Some people may want to post something that they can't say in person, but then how do you know if it's valid?"

Hundreds of schools nationwide — including 40 in the city — have blocked the site on their computers.



Saturday, January 01, 2005

RateMyTeachers.com Newsletter #8

RateMyTeachers.com Newsletter #8
January 2005

The RateMyTeachers.com team wishes you a happy New Year and encourages you to set specific and challenging resolutions. The New Year is a time to reflect on our growth as we prepare for the road ahead.

We have come a long way since we launched this site in August 2001 and have much for which to be thankful and appreciative. This month we will reach our seven millionth teacher rating, and our database includes ratings for nearly one million teachers. We have served millions of students and teachers and continue to reach into classrooms across all parts of the US and Canada, and now the UK and Ireland.

We look forward to reading your ratings and comments for new teachers. To give you more space to express yourself, we have increased the space you have to leave comments. If your school has a moderator who reviews the ratings, you now have up to 512 characters to express you opinion. If your school does not yet have an admin, feel free to apply. Simply log on to your school’s page on RateMyTeachers and click the “Apply Here” link.

Recent noteworthy press:
PARENTS CAN E-RATE TEACHER
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/37553.htm
PARENTS RATE TEACHERS ON POPULAR WEBSITE (video)
http://www.ny1.com/ny/NewsBeats/SubTopi ... ntid=46731

STUDENTS GRADE TEACHERS ONLINE, AND SOME ARE RILED
http://ratemyteachers.com/press/usatoday/092804.htm

You may have noticed our banners for this cool place called The Island School, which is an academic semester abroad program in The Bahamas for high school sophomores and juniors. As an Island School student, you will work hard for 3 months during either the Fall or the Spring and challenge yourself academically, physically, and emotionally, finding out who you are by pushing past your limits. Scuba diving and kayaking connect you to the environment; community outreach builds bridges with local people, and the friends you make will shape you. Are you in 9th or 10th grade now? Apply by March 2005 for next school year at http://www.islandschool.org

We want to welcome back PromSpot.com. You will see their banners on the home page and school pages. PromSpot.com is the number one destination online for 100's of great prom dresses and the latest dress trends, hot prom hairstyles, celebrity makeup secrets, and the funniest embarrassing prom stories. They will be running a weekly beauty giveaway- and RateMyTeachers will be joining them for even more prizes. Be sure to click on their banner or visit http://promspot.com now!

Current list of our sites (who will be next?):
USA - http://ratemyteachers.com
Canada - http://ratemyteachers.ca
United Kingom - http://ratemyteachers.co.uk
Ireland - http://ratemyteachers.ie

An interesting link (people rating RateMyTeachers – it’s unanimous, we are well received):
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/custom ... PDKIKX0DER

Sincerely,

The RateMyTeachers.com Team