Review finds new student survey report not based on sound research

A new review has found student surveys of their teachers can be a useful tool, but a report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that recommends their broader use doesn't provide any methodological or empirical data to back that up.

The foundation recently released the third report of its Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, which aims to develop a reliable method for evaluating teachers. The report, "Asking Students about Teaching: Student Perception Surveys and Their Implementation," determines that student surveys provide useful evidence of teaching and feedback for teachers, and includes optimal student survey practices

Eric Camburn, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, prepared the review and found major limitations to the third MET report.

The report makes some sensible recommendations for using student surveys, but unfortunately there is no body of literature that can be used to support the report's recommendations or for using student surveys for data driven decision-making.

The report neither cites nor references any empirical or conceptual research. In fact, even though the report presents results from the first two MET reports, those reports are not cited.

Because of this, it is not possible to determine the validity of the report's findings and conclusions due to a marked lack of detail about statistical results and methods.

Camburn's review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The review can be found at http://www.greatlakescenter.org.