On Thursday, Oct. 29, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unanimously approved rules to implement HB 2504, a new law that requires all higher education institutions to post detailed course information on their Web sites. As testimony before the board indicated, much of the information, in particular course syllabi and curriculum vitae of faculty, is already published or posted, in compliance with guidelines of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
However, for faculty and supervisors the most controversial requirement of the new statute is the following language:
Institutions of higher education included in this section shall conduct end-of-course student evaluations of faculty and develop a plan to make evaluations available on the institution's website.
Testimony by Coordinating Board staffer MacGregor Stephenson confirmed that schools are not required under the law to post student evaluations by any stipulated time, but each college and university must develop a plan to do so. The deadline for the plan is August 2010 (the board's rules extended the deadline from January because of an inconsistency in the statutory language). Importantly, this means that institutions will determine the format and scope of their evaluation instruments.
It is vital that faculty members on each campus participate in this process to help insure that the evaluations represent a valid assessment of faculty, do not jeopardize academic rigor, and do not violate the privacy of students and teachers. If you have information to share on this subject regarding current efforts at your school to formulate an evaluation plan, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, so it can be reported to colleagues around the state as appropriate.