Student opinions about teachers on Web
December 8, 2003
By William Ferchland
Tribune staff writer
On one Web site, Bridey Heidel’s face is orange and wearing sunglasses.
The South Tahoe High School teacher is one of several teachers who received popular rankings on Ratemyteachers.com, a Web site for students to publicly grade their teachers.
“I guess I could say I’m flattered,” said Heidel, who also received popular scores at South Tahoe Middle School, where she taught last year. “I never really knew it existed. I would give my students quarterly progress reports (on my performance) and it’s not all sunglasses and smiley faces.”
Heidel received one ranking under STHS, where 46 teachers and administrators were listed. Thirty had a rank.
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STMS had 37 teachers and administrators listed, 89 percent had a ranking.
Three faces constitute the grading system. There is a frown, pursed lips and smiley face. Besides the faces, scores between 1 and 5 are awarded based on easiness, helpfulness, clarity and overall quality of teachers.
Principals are graded as well. STHS Principal Marcia Kaster and STMS Principal Mike Greenfield and Vice Principal Ken Griest had an average rating.
Teachers are rated on their craft and all opinions and rumors, such as an instructor not having a college degree, are deleted. So are sexual descriptions, profanity and comments about the teacher’s personal life. Threatening comments are turned over to authorities, the Web site states.
One STMS teacher received seven grades, which combined into a frown face.
“She is nice and can sometimes be mean,” was one comment.
Another STMS instructor received a smiley face.
“I absolutely loved her!” the student wrote. “The best teacher in the world. She makes everything fun. I feel like I was back in the Middle Ages, Ancient Egypt and Rome.”
Some Whittell High School students had varying opinions on the site. Nine Whittell teachers were listed; seven had a favorable rating.
“You can voice your opinion,” said freshmen Willis Hughes. “It can be considered helpful for teachers.”
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” said sophomore Tara Scaduto. “I can say what I want about a teacher at school. I don’t need to go on a Web site for it.”
“I also think the district should look at it, but they probably won’t,” said junior Megan Lowe.
The site was founded in August 2001. Ads for Samsonite luggage, classmates.com and online traffic school dot the site. It even has merchandise for sale, such as shirts.
As of Tuesday, there were 3.4 million ratings for 557,884 teachers. About 30,000 schools are included in the site, which added 10,645 ratings on Monday.
Elementary schools are not included and there is no rating for Kingsbury Middle School, although it is easy to make one. There is no fee.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org