Increasingly, states are factoring teacher performance into decisions about whether to grant tenure and which teachers to lay off, according to a comprehensive analysis of state policy released by the Denver-based Education Commission of the States.
Among the findings:
- Sixteen states now require teacher-evaluation data to be used in making decisions about whether to grant tenure, up from 10, since the research group's last report in 2011.
- Since 2011, Florida, Kansas, and North Carolina have eliminated tenure (continuing employment or due process), or phased it out.
- Seven states return a tenured teacher to probationary status if they are rated ineffective: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Tennessee.
- Georgia, Louisiana, and Maine are the most recent states to make performance a consideration in laying off teachers; Washington will add it in 2015-16.
- 10 states prohibit the use of tenure or seniority in making layoff decisions: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Utah, and Virginia. Only five states had those stipulations in 2012.
While the federal Race to the Top program may be slowly winding down, some of the policy changes that the Obama administration launched with the federal initiative don't seem to be. On the other hand, many of these changes continue to be challenged: A North Carolina state superior court judge recently declared that state's attempt to phase out tenure unconstitutional.
The ECS report contains links to other documents outlining each state's statute governing layoffs, and each state's particular tenure-granting requirements. Check those out, too.