A recent New York Times Tech piece features the company Panorama Education, which designs and administers survey-based teacher evaluation systems. (Grading Teachers, With Data from Class, September 3, 2014). With questions that reminded me of university-level course evaluations completed by students, the system aims to offer useful, accessible data in an open-source framework, which means that schools can customize the content. From the article,
“Panorama is trying to assess how well teachers are doing by conducting scientifically valid student questionnaires that collect data about a variety of factors that might affect a teacher’s performance, from how well she conveys the material and whether she encourages interest in a subject to whether a school fosters a sense of belonging for students.”
The start-up has some powerful backers: Google Venture and Mark Zuckerberg, which I’ll admit raised my curiosity. It might seem that another standardized measure may not add innovation or value to assessment systems, but as I read about the survey’s emphasis on teachers’ interactions with kids (and not necessarily how kids in the class perform on tests themselves), I wondered if this might be a good direction:
“Teachers can dig into how they performed on a question-by-question basis, and they can monitor their performance by subgroup. The survey reports allow teachers to see if they’re connecting better with boys than with girls, or if students who have trouble with English are having more difficulty in a classroom than those who are native English speakers.”
What do you think, school librarians? Are you in a school system using Panorama? How might the topics be customized for librarians and other special area teachers?