“She drives the class up a wall, talks to herself in a very scary manner, and has a thing against cats. I hate her and I hope she gets fired.”
This comment is just one of many in a sea of student-versus-teacher criticism and praise on ratemyteacher.com.
Rate My Teacher, created in 2001, was originally intended for students to truthfully critique their teachers based on past classroom experiences.
According to a survey conducted of 170 Palo Alto High School students, 5.9 percent say that they post on the website, and 36 percent say that they have never used Rate My Teacher.
One of the students who posts reviews on the site, junior Miranda Chen, explains why she does.
“I think it’s good to contribute to ratemyteacher.com because if you don’t, who else will?” Chen says. “It gives us [students] free will to say what we want on a public forum anonymously.”
Although the site was intended to be a useful resource, the anonymity of posters often makes it difficult to determine which comments are from students on a vengeful rampage and which are from students with honest descriptions of teachers.
Whether the reviews are positive or negative, sophomore Josh Code feels that most of the time, students accurately depict teachers on the website.
“I think that no one knows the teachers better than the students, so ratemyteacher.com offers a reliable system for gauging a teacher’s effectiveness,” Code says.
Often times, teachers of higher lanes get harsher reviews because of their course content and steep grading. AP U.S. History teacher Jack Bungarden has experiences with this, but is indifferent about the site.
“The comments are all over the map, and it’s not very accurate since it’s such a small sample size,” Bungarden says.
In contrast to Bungarden, English teacher Marc Tolentino does not like the anonymity because it gives students the freedom to lash out at teachers.
“It’s intimidating as a teacher because students can post without the teacher knowing,” Tolentino says.
Tolentino still keeps an open mind about Rate My Teacher. Like most of the surveyed students, he understands the different ways students can use the site.
“Students can take things emotionally and then post their feelings online, [but] at the same time, I see how it is a good tool for students,” he says.
*The student poll results collected for this issue are from a survey administered in Palo Alto High School English classes in September 2014. Eight English classes were randomly selected, and 170 responses were collected. The surveys were completed online, and responses were anonymous. With 95% confidence, these results are accurate within a margin of error of 1 6.31%, 2 6.06%, 3 2.97%.