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Teacher Effectiveness and Student Perception Surveys – Using Perception Data to Support Improvement of Student Outcomes

by | Sep 04, 2013
By Jackie Miller, Brown County ESC, and Kim Davidson, New Miami Local Schools

Collecting survey data from students, staff, and parents continues to be an active business tool in education.  In order to find out how active and to what end, the Ohio TIF (Teacher Incentive Fund) Other Measures Survey Design Team “surveyed” our colleagues. The results showed that a majority of Ohio TIF districts were utilizing surveys with a variety of groups including students, staff, and parents.  Multiple tools were being used across the membership but most measured the areas of Well-Being, Hope, and Engagement that Gallup research has shown to have significant implications for a positive working environment, as well as future success and happiness. For the most part the information gleaned from the surveys is being used to inform school improvement initiatives. Specific data generated from the Other Measures Survey include:
  • 64.7% of Ohio TIF districts stated that they did administer the survey
  • After “Satisfaction,” the concepts of Well-Being, Hope, and Engagement topped the list of measured items
  • 88.9% of respondents said that the data was used to “improve overall district climate”
  • 77.8% said that “improving interactions and connections with students” was key
  • Another 77.8% utilized the data to “inform professional learning”
  • Only 33.3% of Ohio TIF districts are currently using perception data as evidence in evaluations
Research show that perception surveys can be a powerful tool in measuring teacher effectiveness of not only student learning, but also of student development. Although analyzed first in number format, perception data goes deeper than mere percentages. Brene Brown of the University of Houston calls perception data “data with a soul.” Perception data tells us a story. It helps us fill in the gaps. It helps us make connections. Three major research take-aways can be drawn from the following studies:
  • MET Project (2010) shows that a well-designed student perception survey can provide reliable feedback on aspects of teaching practice that are predictive of student learning.
  • Capturing the Dimensions of Effective Teaching by Thomas Kane from Harvard, explains that student surveys can be a powerful complement to other multiple measures in supporting educator effectiveness.
  • How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough, argues that the qualities that matter most have more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control. These characteristics are measured through self-reported perception surveys.
Student and teacher surveys provide valuable information, in that they do the following:  
  • Give teachers information about their student so that they can analyze the data and impact student learning positively
  • Give teacher another measure to add to test scores and observations to measure their effectiveness, creating a balanced and accurate picture of teacher performance (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
To this end the Other Measures Survey Design Team developed a cross-walk tool to help educators see the direct connection to the Ohio Standards for the Teaching Profession (OSTP) and the research-developed survey questions most used in student and staff surveys. This tool could give educators another measure from which to glean evidence of their effectiveness with students that they touch on a daily basis. By understanding the perceived reality of students to a host of questions, educators can create actions to address the gaps that are noticed. Perception survey data analyzed over multiple implementations will give educators additional evidence of their own professional growth and development in areas of focus from the OSTPs. There is power in perception and that power can be utilized in the newly implemented Ohio Educator Evaluation Systems.

How is your school using perception data? Please share in the comments below.