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Bill Gillies - Editor

Nothing odd about teachers being graded by students

An Agence France Press story reports that a German teacher who had sued to shut down a website where pupils rank their instructors according to competence and “coolness” lost her battle yesterday in the German Federal Supreme Court.

The teacher, Astrid Czubayko-Reiss, claimed that her privacy was being violated by the site, which loosely translates to  She had received a mediocre “D” rating from students.

“The right of students to exchange opinions and communicate freely outweighs the right of the teacher suing to determine information available about her,” the court ruled.

The website allows students to turn the tables on teachers by anonymously grading them in categories including “cool and funny”, “popular”, “motivated”, “relaxed” and “teaches well”.

The German Teachers’ Association criticised the ruling. “It is inexplicable that the [court] values the personal rights of teachers less than an anonymous assessment of teachers by students on the Internet,” Association president Josef Kraus said, referring to the federal court.

Germany is just catching up with the times.  Teacher-rating websites in other countries are well-established.  The U.S.-based is an increasingly popular site for students and parents to share reviews and ratings of middle and high school teachers. Online since 2000, more than 10,000,000 people visited the site in 2008. currently offers over 10 million ratings of over 1 million teachers. About 60 percent of comments are positive.  Countries covered by the service include the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. is the largest listing of collegiate professor ratings, with more than 6.8 million student-generated ratings of over 1 million professors. The site says that “each year, millions of college students use the site to help plan their class schedules and rate current and past professors on attributes such as helpfulness and clarity.” Online since 1999, currently offers ratings on college and university professors from over 6,000 schools across the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales.

Some educators suggest the anonymous rating system can be unfair and simply invite retaliation if a professor gives a student a deservedly poor mark.  But in a world where virtually any web site that sells products asks its customers to rate their satisfaction with the product or purchasing process, it’s natural for students to expect they can pass judgement on their teacher or professor.  It’s equally natural for them to seek out the views of their peers.

Tags: School/College


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