Teacher tenure, once sancrosanct, is under review in several states, writes Stephen Sawchuk in Education Week. Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to pass a bill abolishing tenure for new teachers. Ohio enacted a law last year delaying the tenure decision until a teacher has seven years of experience. Delaware is linking tenure more closely to “a teacher’s effect on student achievement.” Maryland is expected to pass a modest bill delaying tenure from two years to three.
Colorado and Louisiana may be next to act on tenure.
“Advances in the collection of student-achievement and teacher-performance data” have “totally changed the debate about tenure,” Patrick J. McGuinn, an associate professor of political science at Drew University, tells Ed Week.
But the new tenure reforms don’t focus enough on ensuring that teachers are successful in the classroom, says Timothy Daly, president of the New Teacher Project.
“Right now, the standard is that you haven’t been fired by your principal,” Mr. Daly said.
Maryland hopes to create “a unified, statewide evaluation framework that would be linked to tenure and include some consideration of growth in student scores.”
Ohio dropped the idea of using test scores to evaluate teachers.
Delaware, one of the first two Race to the Top winners, “recently made a measure of student learning the primary benchmark in determining whether a teacher should be granted tenure,” Ed Week reports.
Two-thirds of teachers teach subjects that aren’t measured by state test scores. Evaluating their effect on student achievement is even more of a challenge.
On Teacher Beat, Sawchuck adds:
In Colorado, state Sen. Michael Johnston, a Democrat, plans to introduce a bill that would require teachers to be deemed “effective” in three evaluations before receiving tenure. Growth in student test scores would be a significant part of the system, according to this Denver Post story.
It’s not clear if the bill will pass.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is backing a bill to make it easier to fire tenured teachers who are “chronically ineffective.” Delaware also is making it easier to fire tenured teachers if there is a “pattern of ineffectiveness,” such as two to three years of low ratings. Johnston plans to include similar provisions in his Colorado bill, Sawchuk reports.