Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Richard P. Manatt


Concerns raised over young students' tendencies to mark their teachers toward the high end of an evaluation rating scale (leniency bias) initiated this study which examined the potential for involving primary and elementary students in the teacher evaluation process. Student feedback on teacher instruction (K-12) was used in the Cave Creek, Arizona, School District as one component of the district-wide teacher pay-for-performance plan. The performance plan differentiated salary, in part, based upon students' ratings of teachers. This study examined whether primary and/or elementary teachers are given an unfair advantage in a career ladder system which uses student evaluations as one of its components. This study also examined the discrimination power of K-2 and 3-5 student evaluation of teacher instrument items and provides insight regarding rating form construction for use with young students;The study concluded that even primary students (K-2) are capable of being discriminating judges of teacher performance when feedback items ask for judgment regarding work, i.e., teacher assigning interesting work, students receiving work back quickly, taking tests, and homework. Perhaps most important for this investigation, however, were the findings which concluded that when students' total mean ratings of teachers were compared by level, by individual grade, and in most instances when common questions were compared by level, there were no differences in ratings; primary and/or elementary students did not demonstrate a leniency or severity bias in their ratings of teachers;In most cases when students' ratings of teachers were compared by grade, ratings of teachers did not vary according to the grade at which the teacher was assigned. Kindergartners did tend to rate teachers higher than did students in other grades, but only when questionnaire items common across levels were compared by grade. The study also found some evidence that elementary students' ratings of teachers were higher than primary and middle school ratings but, again, only when common questions were compared by grade. Support from this study for a kindergarten or elementary leniency bias is limited, as three of four tests designed to address the potential of a young-rater bias concluded that the level at which a teacher teaches makes no difference in students' ratings.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Barbara Jane Weber



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

199 pages