Measuring Success

The third year was… okay? Could have been better? Good? I think it was decent. I think.

By what measure do I judge how successful my year was? Student evaluations?  Grades on final exams? My students growth on standardized tests? Some other metric that exists only in my mind?

Student evaluations were mostly positive.

Mostly:

Those who disagree are eating away at me. Do I consider this a successful year- that most of my students felt comfortable asking questions in class? Is getting everyone to feel comfortable a reasonable goal? I don’t know. (The results were very similar for all of my five classes)

My final exam grades were… what I expected them to be. Most kids did well, a few did exceptionally well, and fewer didn’t do as well. While there was a surprise or three in the exceptional category, there were no students who didn’t do well that I didn’t expect. So, is this success? Knowing who knows what before giving a final? If I were a better teacher, wouldn’t I have caught and helped them all to do well?

Now for those standardized test results: My district uses the EPAS system; incoming 8th graders take the EXPLORE, frehsmen take the PLAN, sophmores take a released version of an ACT, and juniors take the PSAE (part of which is the ACT). We use this to measure individual student growth, growth by students in a particular course, and individual class/teacher growth. In the course I have taught for three years, on average my students’ growth has increased ever year. This is good. Did they grow “enough”? I have no idea.

As for my own metric… I don’t know. I think it was a decent year. I think that as a whole they learned to communicate their thinking, they learned to keep working at a problem even if the answer didn’t come right away, and they learned new skills. Oh, and we laughed a lot too.

Some of the free-response survey comments that help me to believe it was a decent year.

  • I liked that you didn’t just give us the answers and made us figure things out.
  • I didn’t like all the word problems; it’d be more beneficial if we did more worksheets.
  • I enjoyed working in groups because when our knowledge was pooled together, we could learn off of each other well.
  • You understand better when you teach someone else.
  • You are my favorite high school math teacher.

Okay, that last one was made by a freshmen, so I’m the favorite out of a sample of one. But it isn’t a bad note on which to end the year.

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