RateMyTeachers.com Blog

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.”

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