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Tue May 7, 2013, 04:39 PM

Why Not Teacher Evaluations by Students?

By Nat Hentoff
This article appeared on Cato.org on April 17, 2013.

As clashes continue between teachersí unions and local and state legislatures concerning evaluations of teachers to determine if they are to stay employed, I donít hear either side reacting to what students feel about how they are being taught. This includes the students themselves.

Such evaluations could and should ask students what they think being in school is going to mean for their futures. Teachers have their missions. But what are these studentsí missions beyond college degrees?

Accordingly, to get teacher evaluations, students ought to reveal more about their own real-life, real-time selves in a preparatory dialogue with the people recording their judgments. These people should ask the students such questions as:

What do you most want to learn about, and why?
Have any of your teachers gotten you interested, even excited about subjects or issues you hadnít previously thought about? If any did, how did they do that?
How well do your teachers know each of you outside of class?
What do you care about and do outside of this school?
What was your life like before you ever came to school?

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-not-teacher-evaluations-students

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Reply Why Not Teacher Evaluations by Students? (Original post)
Addison May 2013 OP
NYC_SKP May 2013 #1
Buzz Clik May 2013 #3
NYC_SKP May 2013 #4
Buzz Clik May 2013 #5
Addison May 2013 #7
Buzz Clik May 2013 #10
Addison May 2013 #16
DonCoquixote May 2013 #27
Neoma May 2013 #49
LWolf May 2013 #54
Addison May 2013 #62
Squinch May 2013 #67
LWolf May 2013 #74
Addison May 2013 #75
LWolf May 2013 #80
Buzz Clik May 2013 #57
Addison May 2013 #60
Buzz Clik May 2013 #61
Addison May 2013 #63
CRK7376 May 2013 #56
Buzz Clik May 2013 #58
mbperrin May 2013 #77
Squinch May 2013 #26
Addison May 2013 #29
Squinch May 2013 #31
Addison May 2013 #40
Squinch May 2013 #46
Addison May 2013 #48
Squinch May 2013 #50
Addison May 2013 #52
Squinch May 2013 #65
Addison May 2013 #68
Squinch May 2013 #69
Addison May 2013 #70
Squinch May 2013 #71
mbperrin May 2013 #78
Addison May 2013 #79
NYC_SKP May 2013 #9
Buzz Clik May 2013 #11
NYC_SKP May 2013 #12
marew May 2013 #32
Addison May 2013 #14
Buzz Clik May 2013 #2
Addison May 2013 #6
Buzz Clik May 2013 #8
marew May 2013 #20
Addison May 2013 #23
marew May 2013 #36
Addison May 2013 #41
HiPointDem May 2013 #81
marew May 2013 #17
Addison May 2013 #21
marew May 2013 #37
LineLineLineReply .
Squinch May 2013 #22
marew May 2013 #39
Squinch May 2013 #42
marew May 2013 #45
Squinch May 2013 #13
Addison May 2013 #15
Squinch May 2013 #19
Addison May 2013 #28
Squinch May 2013 #33
marew May 2013 #44
marew May 2013 #43
marew May 2013 #18
MichiganVote May 2013 #30
mike_c May 2013 #34
Addison May 2013 #47
mike_c May 2013 #73
Squinch May 2013 #51
CRK7376 May 2013 #59
DonCoquixote May 2013 #24
marew May 2013 #38
HockeyMom May 2013 #25
chillfactor May 2013 #35
FBaggins May 2013 #53
Squinch May 2013 #66
duffyduff May 2013 #55
proud2BlibKansan May 2013 #64
Igel May 2013 #72
ladjf May 2013 #76
greymattermom May 2013 #82

Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:45 PM

1. No shit, right? Who, in the end, are the clients, the customers?

 

That's right. The students.

But we can't go there because, in practice, schools teach conformity and not much more, I'm afraid.

Conformity first, then maybe you can learn some things and maybe even have fun once in a while.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:49 PM

3. How does your comment relate to teacher evaluations by the students?

 

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #3)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:52 PM

4. Students traditionally are powerless. Letting them evaluate teachers would go against tradition.

 

I didn't mean to be obtuse, but it was a reply that didn't directly answer the question but instead describes the power structure that answers the question.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #4)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:57 PM

5. I don't know. I think that teacher evaluations by a bunch of hormone poisoned kids...

 

... will not do much for the quality of the education they receive.

I don't feel that conformity is a lofty goal, nor should schools be a prison. Maybe there is a clever way to structure the evaluations so that the teacher with the best in-school snacks doesn't a priori get the best evaluations while the math teacher get pounded.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #5)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:01 PM

7. "hormone poisoned kids"?????????

Wow.

Do you really have so little respect for the inherent intelligence of young people?

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Response to Addison (Reply #7)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:04 PM

10. You ever have a 14-year-old boy or girl in your home for more than 2 hours?

 

Yeah. Horomone poisoned.

There is nothing on two legs closer to subhuman than a 14-year-old boy and nothing more irrational than a girl of that age. They grow out of it eventually, but absolutely they are hormone poisoned.

What does that have to do with intelligence?

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #10)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:22 PM

16. Folks said the same kinds of things about blacks

when they were denying them the right to vote

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Response to Addison (Reply #16)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:45 PM

27. save that all kids are that way

as opposed to race, 14 year old of all stripes are dumb.

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Response to DonCoquixote (Reply #27)

Tue May 7, 2013, 07:13 PM

49. Ageist.

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Response to Neoma (Reply #49)

Wed May 8, 2013, 07:37 AM

54. Brain research.

Adolescence is a time that the brain is pruning unused and little-used neural connections and restructuring itself. There are observable changes in behavior that accompany that time. Not coincidentally, it's the 2nd time the young brain has undergone this process. The first was as a toddler.

This brain restructuring is part of what engenders "the terrible twos." That's what adolescence is like: big toddlers with exploding hormones. They aren't "dumb," but they do seem to lose a lot of common sense.

Somewhere at work in a binder I have some of the research about brain development that explains why teenagers are the way they are.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #54)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:53 PM

62. Be careful

Pseudo-scientific explanations about relative brain development have been used before to justify bigotry and even genocide. Phrenology is the classic example.

And remember beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people call it the "terrific twos." All depends on how you view things.

Calling adolescents "big toddlers with exploding hormones" perhaps says more about you than about them.

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Response to Addison (Reply #62)

Wed May 8, 2013, 03:12 PM

67. What the poster described is not pseudo-science. And to liken it to phrenology is quite bizarre.

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Response to Addison (Reply #62)

Thu May 9, 2013, 06:57 AM

74. It isn't pseudo-science.

I'm sorry I don't have the references at home, or I'd share them.

I'm in the last few weeks of school, and have many, many responsibilities to get done. Once the year-end frenzy is complete, I'll find them.

What, exactly, do you think I should "be careful" about? Are you trying to say that I'm justifying bigotry? If so, YOU are the one who needs to be careful.

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Response to LWolf (Reply #74)

Thu May 9, 2013, 12:10 PM

75. Citing "brain research"

that's "in your binder at home" for statements like:

"This brain restructuring is part of what engenders "the terrible twos." That's what adolescence is like: big toddlers with exploding hormones. They aren't "dumb," but they do seem to lose a lot of common sense."

is pseudo-science.

It's giving your own preconceived notions about a group of people (in this case, both adolescents and toddlers) a veneer of credibility by citing "science", whether or not you truly understand that science.

It is true that brain researchers know more than they've ever known before about the physical processes of the brain. But they are a long way off from being able to use that knowledge to make accurate conclusions about something as complex, subjective, and culturally influenced as human behavior.

So yes, be careful. The rhetorical path you are following is very precarious. History is full of terrible examples of what happens when it is followed to its extreme end.

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Response to Addison (Reply #75)

Fri May 10, 2013, 07:29 AM

80. No.

"In my binder at work." Why? Because it's relevant to the work.

It has nothing to do with my own "preconceived notions." I haven't shared any of those with you.

Again: Be careful of what, exactly? Be specific.

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Response to Addison (Reply #16)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:32 PM

57. LOL!!!!!!

 

What a maroon!

Are you trying to bait me? What a rookie.

Go back to your cave and get some decent coaching. That was weak an embarrassing.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #57)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:43 PM

60. Seemed to strike a nerve

You said teenagers are "hormone poisoned" but somehow I'M the one doing the baiting?

You're obviously threatened by "rookies" and "maroons" who make you feel inadequate. If a rookie, a teenager, or anyone you perceive as below yourself in stature shows signs of intelligence, you fear you're own weaknesses and ignorance will be made obvious.

In other words, you suffer from the same psychological issues that led whites in the South to attack blacks as inferior.

And I'm the one in a cave?

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Response to Addison (Reply #60)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:48 PM

61. Yeah, you're trying to bait me.

 

Ain't happening.

This is a knuckledragger trick of pulling out race when it is meaningless.

You get the last word. Make it a good one! (Your fans are judging you)

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #61)

Wed May 8, 2013, 01:00 PM

63. You're baiting yourself, and I'm just reeling you in

Because you're merely throwing out more insults rather than arguments.

At last count, I'm a knuckle-dragging, rookie, "maroon" who lives in a cave. Good thing I'm not a teenager anymore, or else I'd also be "hormone poisoned."

It's not meaningless to compare your attitude towards young people those in the South who were prejudiced against blacks. Every post you make further confirms the comparison, Professor.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #10)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:24 PM

56. We're

dealing with the 14yo female now and going insane on a daily basis. Our sons were tough but nothing like our "Demon Spawn from Hell"Every other day she is flat out of her mind and we are seething. The next day all better then the cycle repeats itself. Regardless of what I do in a classroom or how I coach my teams, I will always be that hard idiot history teacher that gives to much work and who cares about history....Not always the case, some kids enjoy history, I sure did when I was in HS, but by and large many of them could care less. Ten years later they realize that they learned something or they will say to me that they wished they had paid more attention in class back in their day.....As a note I give all my students an evaluation form to fill out about my class, what can be done better, what was good, what was bad and why. I ask for ways that I can improve and it's supposed to be anonymous, but some kids sign it....

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Response to CRK7376 (Reply #56)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:37 PM

58. Yep.

 

I teach (college). Have a potful of my own kids. In high school, the last I want to do is empower these kids with teacher evaluations.

And, if anyone thinks for one moment that I teacher could not be fired just because these irrational loons tanked their evaluation, you are delusional. It's a guarantee.

As a note I give all my students an evaluation form to fill out about my class, what can be done better, what was good, what was bad and why. I ask for ways that I can improve and it's supposed to be anonymous, but some kids sign it....

Excellent! I have seen informal discussions where the students are allowed to critique the teacher and give feedback -- with the teacher present but a moderator, too. It's a productive exercise.

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Response to CRK7376 (Reply #56)

Thu May 9, 2013, 05:06 PM

77. Yes, I do think most teachers of adolescents ask them on some basis to say what was good and what

could have been better.

I sometimes get some neat ideas - run a test review in a Jeopardy game software format

and the predictable - just pass everyone and show movies.

Worth doing, but part of my evaluation? Nope.

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Response to Addison (Reply #7)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:45 PM

26. Just a guess: you don't spend a lot of time in schools, right?

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Response to Squinch (Reply #26)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:48 PM

29. Spent most of my life in schools

And continue to spend most of my time teaching children.

Just a guess: you don't really like children, do you?

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Response to Addison (Reply #29)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:52 PM

31. Your wording is very careful. In what capacity did you spend most of your life in schools?

And actually, I love children. Enough to respect the fact that childhood is different from adulthood. And to respect the fact that children need to be taught by people with more experience than they have. Because giving children too few boundaries, and giving them too much control over those responsible for their wellbeing, is just as abusive in a school as it is in a home.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #31)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:17 PM

40. Not that I think it matters

but here's my bona fides:

12 years as a K-12 student
4 years as an undergrad in college
3 years as a grad student
3 years as a school counselor in elementary schools
8 years as a volunteer in elementary schools
3 years as a preschool teacher
8 years as a homeschooling parent

Is that enough for me to have an opinion?

Now, assuming it is . . .

Of course childhood is different from adulthood, but not so different that children don't have feelings, thoughts, and unique perspectives, just like adults.

And disregarding those thoughts, feelings, and perspectives is triply counterproductive:

It limits a teacher's awareness of the child's needs; it limits the teacher's own opportunities to grow and improve as a teacher; and it shows a lack of respect for the child which the child is -- believe it or not --quite capable of sensing and responding accordingly.

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Response to Addison (Reply #40)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:40 PM

46. And who said that children don't have thoughts and feelings and perspectives?

Or that those thoughts and feelings should be disregarded?

I didn't.

I said they should not be the ones steering their education. And they should not be given authority over those who are charged with educating them. Because they are children, and they don't know enough.

I wouldn't give them the keys to the car, either. Because they don't know enough to drive. That's not disrespecting them either. It's just sensible. Because they are children.





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Response to Squinch (Reply #46)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:58 PM

48. Squinch, you said it was "silly" to ask kids . . .

"What do you most want to learn about, and why?
Have any of your teachers gotten you interested, even excited about subjects or issues you hadnít previously thought about? If any did, how did they do that?
How well do your teachers know each of you outside of class?
What do you care about and do outside of this school?
What was your life like before you ever came to school?"

Just tell me, are those questions really so awful to ask a kid?

No one is suggesting that students be given the power to fire their teachers at the blink of an eye.

But is it really so wrong to ask their opinion about their teachers? What are you so afraid of?

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Response to Addison (Reply #48)

Tue May 7, 2013, 08:13 PM

50. I am not afraid of anything. But here are some realities:

We are talking about the evaluation system. The evaluation system is the tool that is used to fire teachers.

Nothing is wrong with the questions other than the fact that they don't actually evaluate learning. Some of them are clearly written by someone who is ignorant of the time and curriculum demands that teachers face today. The others are benign and are asked by most teachers of the children anyway.

The problem arises when you institutionalize a teacher evaluation based on children's ratings. The result would be a rating for teachers that is based on what is popular among children, and that tells nothing about how much learning actually goes on in a given teacher's classroom.

And, again, children should not bear the responsibility of steering their education, and should not have control over the people charged with the children's well being. They can't do that effectively because they don't know enough about what they need to know and what they don't know. That is why children have teachers.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #50)

Tue May 7, 2013, 09:53 PM

52. We're not arguing over the same topic

I don't think anyone's suggested that teachers be hired and fired on the whim of students. But there is nothing wrong with asking students to evaluate their teachers. It's not a "very silly" idea.

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Response to Addison (Reply #52)

Wed May 8, 2013, 03:03 PM

65. And if the children's opinions of their teachers becomes part of the evaluation, how are you going

to stop them from being part of the process that allows teachers to be hired and fired?

The purpose of the evaluations being developed for teachers today is to allow administrators to fire teachers.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #65)

Wed May 8, 2013, 04:06 PM

68. And should administrators never be allowed to fire a teacher?

This is the attitude that gives the teacher's unions a bad name, for good reason.

Just because most teachers are caring and have good intentions doesn't mean all teachers should be immune from criticism.

If a student sincerely reports that his teacher belittles him, makes him feels stupid, makes him afraid to try to learn, makes him hate school, etc., should we just ignore that?

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Response to Addison (Reply #68)

Wed May 8, 2013, 04:12 PM

69. On the say so of a child?

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Response to Squinch (Reply #69)

Wed May 8, 2013, 04:28 PM

70. Of course.

Or should we just ignore what children tell us?

There's a lot of child abusers who would like that idea.

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Response to Addison (Reply #70)

Wed May 8, 2013, 05:27 PM

71. Really, you are too much. Have a nice day.

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Response to Addison (Reply #68)

Thu May 9, 2013, 05:13 PM

78. Here's one. I teach seniors. Young lady spills a drink in class, so I hand her some paper towels we

keep for this sort of thing - no big deal, clean up the spill you made, all is good.

But instead, she knocks the towels from my hands, says "I'm not a f****** janitor!" and proceeds to throw four desks away from where she's standing, terrifying students who are struck by sliding desks along the floor. She then runs out, goes to the main office and tells them that I attacked her in class.

29 student statements later, which take 4 days to collect by campus security, they decide my version is accurate. She is transferred to another classroom with another teacher.

She's 18 and sincere as she can be. We should just accept her version? 29 other students who were in the room say that she was wrong and scared them. What could I have done to have prevented this? And you think she would give me a good evaluation?

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #78)

Thu May 9, 2013, 05:29 PM

79. And if she handed in excellent work, according to your standards,

would you still give her a good grade? Or are you certain that you've never let your feelings about a student affect the grade you gave him or her?

Evaluations are by their nature subjective, and influenced by personal feelings.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't attempt to use them, though, or does it?

Because if you're suggesting that we should stop grading kids in school, I'm all for it.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #5)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:03 PM

9. If your attitude is shared by other adults in these kids' lives, then they don't have much chance.

 

And I mean that in a constructive way, kids need to be treated with more respect than that, and with trust and consistency.

Having spent years in the classroom with mostly at risk kids, four years in juvenile hall with "hormone poisoned" boys aged 14-18, I've found them all quite capable of making mature responsible decisions when treated with respect.

Every

Fucking

One of them.

Now it's true, I'll give you this much, that many of most of the kids in a typically classroom, without months of rehabilitation, will act mean and childish and try to fuck things up, and that would be the fault of the adults around them.

Those negative behaviors are all learned behaviors.

It can be so much better.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #9)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:06 PM

11. And you'd be willing to let them have decision making power over your employment?

 

This is going nowhere. You can have the last word.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #11)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:11 PM

12. I would not give them sole power, any more than I'd use just one form of assessment for them.

 

A survey, well crafted and used with students who understand the reason for the assessment, could and probably would reveal really useful information that only students could provide.

I don't know why it seems like a crazy idea to anyone.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #12)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:53 PM

32. Well, it is a crazy idea!

Your first mistake is "students who understand the reason for the assessment." You really, really believe a 6 or 8 or 12 or 14 year old is fully capable of that type of abstract thought and abstract reasoning? You are that familiar with intellectual development among children? Funny, I had to take several courses, undergrad and grad, to have an understanding of the above. Why do you think that we have a separate juvenile justice system? Because kids do not think like adults- do not have the brains of adults.

Google 'brain development' in children. There is almost unlimited information out there. Children are NOT miniature adults!

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #9)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:16 PM

14. Well said

"I've found them all quite capable of making mature responsible decisions when treated with respect. "

Spot on.

I'm amazed at the things people think are okay to say about kids, but which they would never say about women, blacks, gays, etc.

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:47 PM

2. Putting aside the disgusting fact that Cato provided this...

 

Is this author suggesting that K-12 students provide evaluations?

Hentoff has lost his mind.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #2)

Tue May 7, 2013, 04:59 PM

6. I do find the fact that Hentoff joined the Cato Institute one of life's great mysteries

But I think he makes a very fair point.

Why on earth shouldn't K-12 students evaluate their teachers?

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Response to Addison (Reply #6)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:01 PM

8. There are teachers who should be banned from the classroom until the end of time.

 

No doubt about it.

But, I cannot imagine having any of my kids evaluate their teachers at that age. My kids tended to like teacher who were easy and soft and hate teachers with high expectations. I want the high expectations and worry a lot less about the personality issues (most of the time).

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Response to Addison (Reply #6)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:36 PM

20. Because being children-

they are immature, their brains are far from developed, are not always aware that education means they have to put forth effort too, do not have a clue what will be required from them to be successful in life, and on and on.

Children, like many adults, can be lazy and unmotivated and not goal oriented. Which teacher would you have liked in school- the one who truly challenged you, made you work hard, and you learned something or the one who just let you slip by?

If you think it doesn't get around in schools who the 'easy' teachers are, you are sadly mistaken! You really think a first grader is able to evaluate the quality of their education? And you have REALLY thought this through? WOW!

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Response to marew (Reply #20)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:43 PM

23. Wow is right

OF COURSE a first grader is able to evaluate the quality of their education.

Here's a few things a first grader is able to do:

Read
Write
Do basic math
Carry on complex social relationships with family and friends

Compare those abilities to your pet dog, to your cat, or even to a chimpanzee, and its not even close.

Children are far more intelligent than they are given credit for being.

But no surprise, when they are treated as fools they will act as fools.

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Response to Addison (Reply #23)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:04 PM

36. So you are comparing children to animals! Really?

"Read
Write
Do basic math
Carry on complex social relationships with family and friends "

These are done at a FIRST GRADE LEVEL in first grade! Very, very simple, very primitive. You believe a first grader can evaluate and reason out complex abstractions?

What part do you not understand their brains are not developed? For your own sake, do some research on child and intellectual development?

Guess I wasted my years during my grad fellowship in education, child development, educational psychology at a major university. I should just have asked you!

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Response to marew (Reply #36)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:20 PM

41. Nothing simple and primitive about reading

See if your dog can read to you.

"evaluate and reason out complex abstractions"?

That's reading.

And by the way, yes, I think you did waste your years during your grad fellowship, etc., etc.

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Response to Addison (Reply #6)

Fri May 10, 2013, 03:11 PM

81. no mystery at all. hentoff is a winger.

 

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #2)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:24 PM

17. You have that right!

Some teachers see up to 150 kids a day, already work many hours overtime, have additional responsibilities in the school setting, must attend faculty meeting, department meetings, stay up late grading tests and papers, etc.

Lost his mind is putting it mildly! He assumes that every student comes from a supportive home that values education, has enough sleep and healthy meals, provides good role models, etc. Obviously, this author has not even the slightest clue what teachers do every day!

From a retired school social worker who has seen it all- up close and personal!

We had a special ed class where the teacher purchased with her own money small items her students could earn. One girl worked very hard and one Friday got a scrunchy for her hair. The kid was thrilled. The girl came into school very depressed the following Monday. Her mother had taken the scrunchy and was wearing it in her hair! And that was one of the 'better' things I saw. Then there was the home I went to where garbage was ankle deep through the entire house and another house had piled up beer cans filled a quarter of the living room. There were medical conditions not addressed by parents, emotional and/or physical abuse, no supervision, etc. After what I saw for decades, I really resent how teachers are unfairly scrutinized and blamed for not doing enough!!

My fellow social workers and I would joke that we wanted to write a book about all the outrageous stuff we saw in families but we never did it. We were absolutely sure no one outside of education would believe a single word we wrote. After one home visit I made I was called by a police officer at my office a few days later. He told me where I went and when I went- they must have been taking down license plate numbers. I said yes I was there. The officer then told me it would not be a good idea to go back there because it was a CRACK house. I promised I would not return!

The majority of teachers do a great job- many under terrible circumstances.

NEWSFLASH! Teacher were not meant to be and cannot be all things to all people!

People like Henthoff who can make such off-the-wall suggestions don't begin to have a clue!

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Response to marew (Reply #17)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:36 PM

21. I'm not suggesting teachers don't care

Just suggesting that SINCE they care, they might want to consider what their students think.

Just because a teacher does great things for his or her students doesn't mean there's no room for improvement.

God knows we spend enough time grading students under the same theory.

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Response to Addison (Reply #21)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:09 PM

37. Of course they care!

"doesn't mean there's no room for improvement." Everyone always has room for improvement!

"God knows we spend enough time grading students under the same theory." Which particular theory of education are you referring to? There are a number of them out there! Which is your 'same' theory'? I was exposed to many during my time in both as an undergrad and in grad school.

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Response to marew (Reply #17)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:40 PM

22. .

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Response to Squinch (Reply #22)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:16 PM

39. Thanks

I am always amazed that so many people who have not been in a school in so many years have all the answers. If they are so smart why don't they take their "superior" insights into fields where they will be "appreciated."

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Response to marew (Reply #39)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:22 PM

42. I think it would be very easy to go through the

responses to this thread and see who actually has any experience with kids and schools and who has "read a lot about it and knows what he's talking about."

Like you, I am not a teacher but work with kids in a number of schools. It is sickening to see teachers being beaten up every day, and the ignorance of the people doing the beating.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #42)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:37 PM

45. You are so on target! n/t

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:11 PM

13. This is really very silly.

It guarantees that the easiest or least serious teachers will be rewarded. We are talking about kids. They don't like things like homework and long division.

I also think this attitude is an example of one of the biggest problems at the bottom of the difficulties teachers are facing today. Kids are not the ones who should be directing what they are taught. They don't know enough. That's why they need teachers.

When I went to school, I was told, "You need to learn the times tables." I wasn't asked if it was OK with me if someone taught me the times tables. It wasn't explained to me why I needed to learn them. I was just told that I did need to learn them. There are certain basics that you don't know why you are learning them when you are learning them. You only understand why you need to know them after you know them and apply them. Most of grammar school is comprised of these basics.

There is an attitude now, among those who create the curricula, who are also usually people who have never set foot in a classroom, that we need to get permission from the kids to teach them what they need to learn. There are all kinds of provisions in these plans to get the kids to buy into what they are being taught. It wastes time, and the kids don't get it or care about it.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #13)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:21 PM

15. What if we had no idea what kids "need" to learn

Bill gates didn't "need" to learn a lot of the things he was being taught in school.

He cut classes to work on computers, those newfangled inventions that his teachers knew nothing about, and taught nothing about.

We should not be so glibly self-assured in assuming that we "know" what kids "need to know," especially to the point that we think it not even worthwhile to ask them their opinion about their own education.

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Response to Addison (Reply #15)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:29 PM

19. We have a pretty good idea what kids in grade school need to know. Even Bill Gates.

I work with kids. I know the answers you get when you ask them their opinions about their education. So no, I don't think it's worthwhile.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #19)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:46 PM

28. I work with kids, too

And it never ceases to amaze me how little credit many adults give children for the intelligence that is inherent within them.

My guess is that with your attitude, kids don't feel it worthwhile to give you their real opinion.

Communication is a two way street. Or "talking back doesn't require outrage" or something like that.

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Response to Addison (Reply #28)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:55 PM

33. What you are suggesting has nothing to do with giving children credit for their intelligence.

Teaching children what will help them get through their lives gives children credit for their intelligence.

Having an institutionalized popularity contest for their teachers is not giving them credit for anything.

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Response to Addison (Reply #28)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:35 PM

44. Come on!

"And it never ceases to amaze me how little credit many adults give children for the intelligence that is inherent within them." Children can be very bright and fast learners but they are NOT miniature adults and do NOT have the same thinking, reasoning, and abstraction skills as adults!

Simply because children are not treated like adults does not mean they are being disrespected.

You make some very, very big leaps in your reasoning.

When a child witnesses a crime, are they questioned in the same manner as adults? Why do you think juveniles are treated differently by both legal system and the court system? Why are children treated differently under the law? Why?

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Response to Addison (Reply #15)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:23 PM

43. Right!

Every kid is an undiscovered Bill Gates? Reality check!

So people in education are "glibly self-assured"? How did you become the authority on that? You dismiss educators in one fell swoop? Who is the 'glib' one here?

How do you know what is really going on in education? What research supports you view? What journals and studies are you referring to?

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Response to Squinch (Reply #13)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:25 PM

18. Excellent post! n/t

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Response to Squinch (Reply #13)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:50 PM

30. +1

 

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Response to Squinch (Reply #13)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:57 PM

34. agreed 100 percent....

I teach university classes where student evaluations have long been a staple of faculty retention, tenure, and promotion decisions. In my university-- the California State University-- a great deal of attention is paid to student evaluations of faculty. There is little or no attempt to measure the quality of those evaluations, however. Indeed, since they are anonymous, there is arguably no way at all to determine their quality.

In a class of 100 students, I routinely get horribly, shockingly low evaluations and giddily high evaluations in the same course, with most falling somewhere in between. When we went to electronic online evaluations several years ago, the good evals mostly disappeared, suggesting that the only folks motivated to make time for class evaluations outside of class were those who were pissed off. This self sampling further degrades the quality of student evaluations.

The more challenging a class is, the more likely it is to receive poor student evaluations. Modern pedagogical approaches are more likely to receive low marks, despite being demonstrably more effective even in the classes that are ranking them poorly, simply because students distrust new classroom techniques. Early classes are more likely to be poorly rated, as are courses that feature in-class problem solving or other work. These are just my personal experiences, but colleagues report similar experiences. "Good" lectures, which mimic television entertainment, are not too challenging, and require little student engagement during class routinely fare better at evaluation time, despite being shown repeatedly to be among the weakest means of teaching.

Further, I'd argue that the students are uniquely NOT qualified to evaluate their professors, both because they tend to evaluate from an emotional perspective rather than a rational or informed one, and also because the merit and utility of ANY class is often not apparent to students until years later, and might have little to do with the course content that was actually taught during the semester. Students rarely have the career perspective or the discipline knowledge to evaluate the quality of a course. In the end, it often comes down to two questions: did they like the professor personally, and was the course easy enough to not make them feel uncomfortably challenged?

The IDEA of student evaluations is appealing-- as someone noted way up thread, students are the proximal "clients" in education. But this ignores the reality that, proximal "customers" or not, students are rarely qualified to evaluate the courses they're offered and besides, the customer/provider model is not at all appropriate for education. In education, the "product" we provide is opportunity to learn in a structured environment. That's it, pretty much. And yet, course evaluations NEVER include questions like "Did the instructor provide opportunities to learn?" Never.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #34)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:51 PM

47. Well said

But your arguments rely on a lot of assumptions and, respectfully, I believe you're demonstrating the typical lack of imagination and self-analysis that's all too common in modern education.

"since they are anonymous, there is arguably no way at all to determine their quality"

If the evaluations help the teacher improve his or her teaching, then they are high quality evaluations, no? But this of course depends on how you define such improvement, and whether the teacher is willing to try to improve, or believes it is even possible. Many teachers assume their correctness on all educational decisions. They are the "teacher", after all.

"The more challenging a class is, the more likely it is to receive poor student evaluations."

Again, the subjective nature, and conflicting opinions about what might constitute "challenging." Many young people enjoy having their mental processes challenged. They are generally more open-minded than adults. Nevertheless, like adults, they do not enjoy being "challenged" by excessive workloads, especially if the work is perceived as unnecessary busywork.

"students are uniquely NOT qualified to evaluate their professors, both because they tend to evaluate from an emotional perspective rather than a rational or informed one"

First off, it's painful to hear this common argument against listening to students' opinions, because of the inherent hypocrisy of believing that on one hand young people are capable of mastering such incredibly sophisticated skills as reading Shakespeare or doing calculus, but incapable of reflecting on such skills objectively. Further, can't the same be said for teacher's grading practices? One wonders what differences we might find in the grades of students who are anonymously graded, particularly in subjects which require subjective evaluations.

"the merit and utility of ANY class is often not apparent to students until years later"

This assumes that most professionals, upon looking back at their classes, agree that the classes properly prepared them for their career. A huge assumption, which I think is not always borne out by the facts. Besides, shouldn't the utility of a class be made obvious to the student, if it can be? If the utility cannot be made obvious, that calls into question whether such utility exists and/or whether the teacher adequately understands the material. Evaluations may, perhaps, ferret this out.

"In education, the "product" we provide is opportunity to learn in a structured environment."

Every waking moment of a person's life is an opportunity to learn. A person may choose to learn in the structured environment of school, or, as is the case with most children, be compelled to learn in such an environment by force of law, but what they actually learn is not necessarily what their teachers think they are learning, or think that they should learn.

And of course the biggest assumption that we often make, either when discussing teacher evaluations or grading methodology -- or even the very idea of grading itself -- is that our system of categorization, the questions we ask and the criteria we value, is a true and accurate method of determining a particular question; i.e., is the professor good at teaching this subject, or is the student good at learning it.

As the old saw goes, ask the wrong question and it won't matter what answer you get.

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Response to Addison (Reply #47)

Wed May 8, 2013, 07:26 PM

73. I think we are talking about two different things....

I agree with you wholeheartedly that when students take the time to reflect and offer thoughtful evaluations of their experience in class, that can be valuable feedback that faculty can use to improve their teaching, although there is still the question about assessment quality.

What I'm talking about is the use of those evaluations in hiring, retention, promotion, and tenure decisions. I find that especially troubling because the veracity of anonymous evaluations cannot be confirmed, and I believe that some students routinely use the evaluation process for character assassination.

I spoke with a colleague this afternoon who was denied a tenure track position just weeks ago because of negative student evaluations he received during one semester two years ago (I'm my union's Faculty Rights Chairperson on my campus). In fact, his evaluations otherwise were uniformly positive-- he received the bad evals during a semester following a serious accident, after which he was frequently absent while he recovered. He was the dept search committee's first choice for the job, and received unanimous support from his colleagues, but the Dean declined to offer him the job and cited ONLY those few negative evaluations as his reason. We can argue all day long about whether that was right, or fair, or whatever, but the administration has complete control of the hiring process, so there is nothing I can do about it.

That is not an isolated example. I hear about several such instances every semester.

Here's another example. I underwent a five year post tenure review this year. As required, I submitted copies of ALL of my student course evaluations for all the courses I've taught during the past five years-- many hundreds of evaluations. Of course, some students were pleased with my classes and wrote glowing evaluations, others were angry or disappointed and wrote critically, and most fell somewhere between those extremes, but two anonymous students in one class during one semester wrote "the professor is a disgusting pervert who shows pictures of partially naked women in class." Both were phrased nearly identically, suggesting that they were collaborative. In any event, the entire, weeks long post tenure review process became centered on my needing to provide evidence to the personnel committees and administrators that I'm not "a disgusting pervert." Despite the circumstance that no student in any of my classes has any basis for making such an assessment of my personality, the burden of proof fell entirely upon me to show that it wasn't so. Those two student comments, which were likely deliberate character assassination, became the complete and utter focus of my personnel review, which is still ongoing. By the way, the class in question was General Zoology and the naked pics are anatomical diagrams of human female genitalia and reproductive systems provided by the textbook publisher and identical to diagrams in the text (I also showed corresponding illustrations of male genitalia and reproductive anatomy, but those were not cited as "perverted".

Here's a quote from an article in TODAY'S student newspaper regarding class evaluations: "Lowe said 'It's really a popularity contest. I took a class and didn't like the professor, so I gave (his class) a bad review. But my friend liked the class so he gave them a good review. It doesn't mean I didn't learn anything. I just didn't like the professor."

Students who admit to such unprofessional behavior are unwittingly (and unjustly) taking part in hiring, promotion, tenure, and firing decisions. I understand the usefulness of high quality feedback from students-- I use that feedback to inform my future pedagogical decisions. But I still do NOT believe that students are in any way qualified to evaluate their professor's effectiveness or ability. That's even more true of K-12 students.

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Response to mike_c (Reply #34)

Tue May 7, 2013, 08:26 PM

51. I've seen it countless times where a teacher is

demanding and the kids complain and dislike the teacher, but come back a couple of years later and are profoundly grateful to have been challenged.

The thought of giving this responsibility to six-year-olds is really laughable, though. I can't believe it's even a discussion. Education is becoming so crazy these days. It breaks my heart to see what teachers are going through.

Here's hoping for a pendulum swing.

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Response to Squinch (Reply #13)

Wed May 8, 2013, 12:39 PM

59. I agree with some

of your statement, but I still haven't figured out why I need to know X and Y or what a cosign is all about. In other words, I really, really suck at math and hate the subject. Fortunately my kids are way smarter than I am when it comes to math so they don't need my help once they got past 4th grade math. And let's not talk about those stupid trains that left different stations and times headed towards each other......

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:44 PM

24. Because

Kids will vote for whoever gives less homework or:
Who their parents tell them to write for, which of course means their pastor tells them to.

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Response to DonCoquixote (Reply #24)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:10 PM

38. EXACTLY!

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 05:44 PM

25. Old issue on Long Island

Students rated their teachers back in the 90s when my kids were in HS then.

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Tue May 7, 2013, 06:01 PM

35. I was not involved in K-12 education....

but I was a university professor for 25 years.....I had my students do evaluations of my teaching three times in the course of a quarter.....it helped me to improve my teaching concepts..I understood what students were understanding and where I could improve my teaching lesson plans

adults are able to give valuable feedback...but I am not sure that K-12 students are capable of doing the same thing...too many factors would influence their reactions to their teacher especially students who are struggling....

I had time in my schedule to tutor students 1:1 if they were having difficulties with a given concept but K-12 teachers operate under severe time restraints and do not have the same flexibility with time that I had...

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 07:36 AM

53. There isn't any reason not to have students evaluate teachers.

Just as there's no reason not to have employees evaluate their supervisors.

The key is in what you call "evaluation". You certainly wouldn't ask the students "Is Mr X a good teacher?" or "rank Ms. Y on her ability to convey information". IOW, you avoid value judgments because few students (depending on age/maturity) are equipped to make the judgment (and even fewer are unbiased).

Instead, you ask for metrics that you can use to help evaluate the teacher. Ask them how many times per week they are called on to interact with the content. Ask them what amount of time is spent in lecture vs. group interactions vs. watching videos (etc). Ask them how much time they spend on homework for that class in an average week.

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Response to FBaggins (Reply #53)

Wed May 8, 2013, 03:08 PM

66. Ask a first grader "how many times they are called on to interact with the content," and his answer

will be something like, "Look! I can run like a ninja!"

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 10:04 AM

55. Stupidest idea EVER

 

Kids are the least qualified to judge K-12 teacher "effectiveness."

Hentoff should stick with civil liberties issues.

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 01:32 PM

64. Can we pick the students? My 1st graders love me.

They'd give me the best evaluation a 7 year old can give a teacher.

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Wed May 8, 2013, 06:25 PM

72. Some college kids could do it just fine.

So could some high school kids.

Many couldn't.

Many of my students had a favorite teacher. She let them listen to music in class. She didn't give them much work. She didn't refer them to the APs. No chops-busting.

She wasn't asked to come back for her second year. Her scores were more than 10% lower than other teachers. I have some of her students this year. They claim they learned a lot because they got good grades. The thoughtful ones say that she was a bad teacher--she taught them little. "But I thought she was great last year."

There's no hindsight on teacher evaluations. And most students in high school are not thoughtful.

So some college (and high school) kids would give really, really useful data. I ask my kids what I could do better. Then I throw away 90% of them that say, "Stop giving tests" or "take out all the math" or "do we have to practice the stuff in class?" I keep the ones that say, "This is how we're taught to solve this kind of math problem" or "most of the kids didn't learn ___________ and you assumed they did."

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Thu May 9, 2013, 01:33 PM

76. The evaluation of teaching skills is difficult at best, even when done by experts. Student may

have valid views as to whether the like the teacher, or even some idea about how much they are learning from the teacher. But, given their obvious lack of in depth understanding of the teaching process and the fact that the evaluations could easily become simply popularity contests. All things considered, I wouldn't use student teach-evaluations if I was an administrator.

Many schools and colleges do currently utilize teacher evaluations by students.

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Response to Addison (Original post)

Mon May 13, 2013, 03:31 AM

82. professsors

In my case, these are the only evaluations that are done. Awards are given, bonuses are given, based on student evaluations of courses. I teach easy, give easy exam questions, and answer tons of emails from students who didn't attend the class. FYI this is in a medical school.

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