More States Use Teacher Performance in Employment Decisions

May 27, 2014

Growing numbers of states are requiring teacher performance to be considered in schools' employment decisions, according to a new report from Jennifer Thomsen, policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States.

Teacher tenure laws grant job protections to teachers based on their years of employment. These laws have been around for 90 years, and they generally require teachers to complete three years of "probationary" employment before they can receive the protections. Once a teacher has tenure, he generally can expect contract renewal as well as certain due process rights if he is fired.

But states are starting to reconsider whether teacher performance should be considered in tenure and other employment-related decisions:

  • Sixteen states now require that teacher performance evaluations be used when making decisions about granting a teacher tenure or non-probationary status. That number is an increase from 10 states in 2011. Oklahoma, for example, grants a teacher non-probationary status after three years of service only if he has been rated "superior" for a minimum of two years and has received no ratings below "effective."
  • Seven states -- Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada Tennessee, Arizona and Louisiana -- now have laws that will put tenured teachers on probationary status if they receive ineffective ratings. For example, when Arizona teachers perform poorly, they are placed on probationary status until they receive one of the two highest performance rankings.
  • Eleven states require districts to look at teacher performance when deciding whether to lay off teachers in periods of declining enrollment or economic problems. Georgia, Louisiana and Maine are the most recent states to pass such laws. Washington has also made performance a main consideration for employment decisions, effective in the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Ten states also prohibit the use of tenure or seniority as a central factor in firing decisions. In 2012, only five states had such laws. Today, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah and Virginia have these provisions on the books.

All states are free to strengthen their teacher tenure requirements and impose stronger evaluation components into tenure decisionmaking.

Source: Jennifer Thomsen, "Teacher performance plays growing role in employment decisions," Education Commission of the States, May 2014.

 

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