In its new report “2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook“, the National Council for Teacher Quality argues for the expansion of the use of student surveys as part of the teacher evaluation process, saying “The state should encourage the use of student surveys, which have been shown to correlate strongly with teacher effectiveness.”
However, there is strong evidence of gender bias in student surveys on the effectiveness of science teaching. Geoff Potvin, Zahra Hazari, Robert Tai and Philip Sadler published a paper in 2009 in the journal Science Education in which they documented gender bias in student evaluations of high school science teaching. The article, linked below (as “potvin”), demonstrates that the biases shown in the data reflect society-wide biases about gender roles in the individual sciences (see figure 1 on page 837). Both male and female students rate female physics teachers more poorly even after corrections are made for objective measures of teacher effectiveness – reflecting the widely-held belief that women should not do physics. The data show a similar bias against female chemistry teachers.
The data on the student evaluation of biology teachers show a curious difference. Female students are unbiased in their evaluations of biology teachers, but male students are biased against female biology teachers.
In advocating for the widespread use of student evaluations of teaching in the K-12 schools, the NCTQ reports that fourteen states already use them. Parent surveys are used in eleven states.