Gage Park High School teacher Xian Barrett speaking in support of VOYCE's demands. Mr. Barrett asks his students for feedback throughout the year. Picture: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Public Schools recently announced that its new teacher evaluation framework will include a pilot of student feedback at all CPS high schools.
This is a huge victory for VOYCE. As students, we are the most reliable source of information about how our teachers support and engage us in the classroom, and we want to see our unique feedback used to help our teachers improve. Starting from this core value last fall, we conducted extensive research and meetings with our teachers about what a successful teacher evaluation system looks like.
Our conclusions? To be successful, CPS's new framework needed to focus on improving instruction, generating useful feedback from students and other stakeholders (not high-stakes testing), and implementing the new policies carefully and collaboratively.
We met with senior staff at both the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools about these recommendations, and took our demands public at a press conference in March with supporters from Mikva Challenge. Students from Youth on Board in Boston also joined us to speak about their experiences winning student feedback forms at the state and district level (you can check out a video about YOB's campaign here).
Check out our press coverage from Chicago Sun-Times, Catalyst Chicago, and Chicago News Cooperative!
We're excited that Chicago Public Schools has listened to students and will be piloting student feedback at all CPS high schools next year. It's a victory for us that our feedback will be piloted, and not rushed. However, as with any campaign victory, we know that the success of the new teacher evaluation system depends on how it's implemented. We want to make sure that our feedback is used to improve the student-teacher relationships that matter so much, not damage them. And we definitely don't support the new policy's emphasis on high-stakes, value-added test scores.
That's why we're calling on CPS to meet with VOYCE and Mikva ASAP to establish a student task force that will work with CPS on the planning, implementation and assessment of this crucial first year, and to collaborate not just with students but with teachers, principals and parents in this process as well.
Chicago Public Schools has the opportunity to become a national model for using teacher evaluation to impact what matters: the teaching and learning that takes place in the classroom every day. As a result of our hard work, students are nowa part of that conversation!