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Tenure Reform Still On Agendas

Reforms to tenure-granting got a lot of attention last year, and there are indications that that will continue in 2011 as well. Take a look at some initiatives bubbling up these days:

• New York City officials have advanced new tenure-granting guidelines there, requiring principals to consider several factors including student achievement before approving tenure for a teacher. The teachers' union has criticized the guidelines, saying the district should pay more attention to supporting teachers.

• A new version of the tenure bill that caused such a ruckus in Florida earlier this year is rattling around the legislature down there. Unlike SB 6, which sought to place all teachers on annual contracts, this one would allow teachers after five years to win three-year "performance contracts." As it stands now, the proposal is slightly more flexible on things like performance pay and ratings for teachers of special education. Expect much more on this in 2011.

• Even Wyoming is getting into the tenure game, with lawmakers planning to introduce a proposal to end "continuing contracts" for teachers.

Broadly speaking, "tenure reform" can mean three things: First, making the evaluations for granting tenure more meaningful; second, pushing back the number of years it takes to earn the benchmark; and finally, examining due process procedure for dismissing tenured teachers who are underperforming. Keep in mind that most tenure proposals would deal with only one or two of these factors.

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