This study tour examined the use of student and teacher school climate surveys in the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. While many schools, districts, and states include academic performance measures and periodic peer/principal observation as data used to improve upon teaching practices, few take into account the observations of the students and teachers themselves. Not all policymakers and practitioners are convinced that student and teacher voice is reliable, consistent, and impactful, or they are unaware of how to effectively incorporate these voices. Yet, spending hundreds of hours as they do in classrooms, students are keen observers of this environment, and can provide valid and reliable feedback about classroom life and teaching practices.
This study tour provided participants an opportunity to learn about the use of high-quality student and teacher surveys which have been developed by the University of Chicago and used in the Chicago Public Schools and the state of Illinois. Participants examined efforts to implement the use of student and teacher feedback as a way to enhance school climate and the learning students experience. Participants heard from district-level staff about the implementation of surveys, how teacher buy-in was attained, and attendant challenges and successes. They visited two schools and engaged with teachers, principals, and students as they discussed the use of surveys at the school level – how students and teachers are engaged in providing feedback and how teachers and principals are incorporating that information into their learning and growth. Time was also devoted on the trip to examining the policy implications of using the surveys for principal and school accountability.