Teachers receive from five stars to no stars

Students post anonymous reviews on Rate My Teacher app that are not always accurate


Ashley Altmann

Left to Right: Brenna Halloran, Emily Bradley and Jaclyn Ohlsen gasp while looking at a review on the Rate My Teacher app

  Every time a new school year rolls around, students and parents anxiously anticipate their new class schedules.

  Many will then turn around and ask the school to warp their schedule to avoid certain teachers based on preconceived notions.

  Ironically, this happens even though these students haven’t actually spent any time in the classroom with these teachers.

  RateMyTeacher.com is a website that allows people to anonymously submit reviews of staff members. To ensure the year ahead of them is successful, some students turn to the forum to gain insight.

  “I’ve looked at several reviews of teachers just to make sure they’re good,” senior Taylor Thornton said.

  Thornton added that she found most of the reviews to be accurate, but she still developed slightly different opinions on her teachers through experience.

  “Some of the comments, though, I thought, ‘Why are those here? Those don’t seem right,’ ” Thornton said.

  Granite Bay High assistant principal Jessup McGregor said students can’t form a complete perspective on a teacher based on an anonymous review.

  “Honestly, each student’s experience with a given teacher (even during the same class period in the same year) can vary so widely based on many factors,” McGregor said in an email.

  McGregor said he thought this made each review less “valid and fair.” These forums also don’t usually showcase every experience, he added – they usually sway from one extreme to the other.

  “Similar to other rating sites, there may be a tendency to only get reviews from students who either really liked or really disliked their experience with a teacher,” McGregor said.

  Those students who disliked a teacher certainly didn’t hesitate to put it all out on the web. Thornton recalled seeing comments dissing teachers for giving a lot of homework or grading hard, but even harsher words were present on the site.

  “I feel like since it’s anonymous, people are more likely to be mean and criticize a teacher just because they could’ve done bad in the class,” junior Tyler Nickle said.

  McGregor could also see how the anonymity could induce bullying and other forms of online harassment.

  “The lack of accountability that exists could lead to things getting out of hand, just like fake Instagram posts,” McGregor said.

  Aside from the large amount of negativity displayed on the forum, some use it as a resource to praise teachers.

  “I’d write a review on maybe a teacher in the Spanish program or English department, like Ms. (Shannon)  McCann,” Thornton said. “She gives a lot of great pointers and is a great teacher.”

  It’s constructive perspectives like these that people hope to find when they visit the website – and many do.

One example is  freshmen Claire Mallo who found reviews on all of her teachers for the year.

  “I found that most of the reviews were very accurate,” Mallo said. “I agreed with a majority of the reviews I saw.”

  Because all students have had their own personal experiences,  their viewpoints  are different, making it hard to judge how a class will be based on a couple of ratings.

  So instead of switching out of a class purely based on the reviews students find online, perhaps students should just take a chance and gain a new experience.

  “I wouldn’t listen to the website,” Nickle said, “It’s all an opinion, and everyone has a different opinion.”