Productivity or Anger Management? The RateMyTeachers.com Controversy

Productivity or Anger Management? The RateMyTeachers.com Controversy


The top of the RateMyTeachers.com page for Staples High School. | Screenshot by Ben Reiser ’13.

One of the largest discussions that seems to circulate all year long among the Staples student body is which teachers one has received on his or her schedule.

Some students hear about “good” and “bad” teachers by word of mouth. Others embrace the technology of the 21st century. They use RateMyTeachers.com.

RateMyTeachers.com is a website for students to rate their elementary, middle or high school teachers, using numerical ratings on a scale of 1-5 in three different categories (Easiness, Helpfulness, and Clarity). Students are also given the opportunity to write a brief comment about the teacher.

Since Michael Hussey, president of public relations company Sharper Communications, Inc., launched RateMyTeachers.com in 2001, the site has received over eleven million teacher ratings.

Staples Students’ Thoughts

Some students find the website legitimate and productive.

“I think [RateMyTeachers.com] is actually pretty accurate, and when I plan out my teachers and classes for Arena, I use it a lot,” said Drew Berman ’12.

However, since Arena was eliminated on October 12, the website will most likely become less popular in the Staples community.

J.J. Mathewson ’12 acknowledges the frequent malice seen on the website, but sees its usefulness as well. “Although [RateMyTeachers.com] can be harsh on teachers and faculty, I do think that it is somewhat helpful for students because it can help them figure out what teacher they would work with best. I know people who don’t use it just to find out how easy a teacher is, but they also get a better look into who might be the best fit for their learning style or personality,” Mathewson said.

Jake Landau ’13 uses it in a similar way to Mathewson. “I use it more as a resource when I’m picking teachers for Arena, and less as a way to vent my anger,” he said.

Though some students find the website entertaining and enjoyable, others find it inappropriate and unsound.

“I don’t really like [RateMyTeachers.com] that much, because a student might be mad at a teacher because of a bad grade, and therefore post a negative review, even if the teacher isn’t actually that bad,” said Anaïs Mitra ’14. “Also, a teacher might be hated by one student, and loved by another, so it’s never completely accurate.”

Teachers’ Feelings

Although the website is designed for students, most of the teachers themselves have seen it, and have relatively strong opinions toward it.

“It’s kind of invalid though, isn’t it?” said Donna Kenny, a Spanish teacher. “I would rather find out what my students think of me personally, rather than seeing these anonymous thoughts. It isn’t really as helpful as kids might think,” Kenny said.

Kevin Glass, a Biology teacher, chuckles at the comments found on his RateMyTeachers.com page, which ranks him as the “best” Biology teacher in the department.

“I think the reviews highlight personality more than teaching ability,” said Glass. “It’s a great idea, though. We should keep with it.”

Bruce Betts, a physical education teacher, former girl’s volleyball coach, and current boy’s volleyball coach – who notably has the most student ratings of any teacher at Staples, as well as one of the highest – doesn’t like to toot his own horn.

“I personally don’t like the website. It’s really more of a popularity site, even though I know there are a lot of great teachers here,” said Betts. “I get a lot out of being with the kids in my class, and I don’t need a website to tell me if they’re enjoying it.”

Do The Ratings Really Matter?

Though controversy still brews regarding the validity of the ratings found on RateMyTeachers.com, some wonder if they actually have an effect in the real world.

“[The ratings have] no effect at all,” said Lisabeth Comm, 6-12 English coordinator. “I don’t put much credence in random anonymous comments.”

The website doesn’t have an effect in the math department either. Frank Corbo, 6-12 Math coordinator, “form[s his] opinions [on teachers] by directly observing classes each year.”

This principle shows in the Social Studies department as well; 6-12 Social Studies coordinator James D’Amico said, “the website has never, and will never have any influence over my interactions with teachers.”

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