Recent years have brought a considerable amount of activity among the states in the areas of teacher tenure and reduction in force. Although the Connecticut General Assembly has not yet taken action in these areas, understanding what action has been taken in other states is instructive.
These state trends were summarized in recent reports released by the Education Commission of the States. For example, three state legislatures – Florida, Kansas and North Carolina – have attempted to eliminate tenure or are phasing it out. Another 16 states require that the results of teacher performance evaluations be utilized when either granting tenure or non-probationary status. And seven states have laws returning tenured teachers to probationary status if they receive a rating of ineffective.
Concerning reduction in force, 37 different states have laws that guide reduction in force decisions, including Connecticut, which requires that non-tenured teachers be reduced in force before tenured teachers. Eleven states require that performance, as measured by teacher evaluations, be considered as a primary factor when making reduction in force decisions. Another ten states explicitly prohibit the use of tenure or seniority when making decisions about layoffs.
Some examples of state legislation concerning reduction in force include Oregon, where a district may retain a teacher with less seniority if they have determined that the teacher being retained has more “competence or merit.” And Maine, where although the state allows for teacher layoffs to be a negotiable item, teacher effectiveness must be the primary factor when determining teacher layoffs.
The recent flurry of activity in the areas of teacher tenure and reduction in force among states shows no sign of abating, and educational leaders should continue to keep abreast of new developments.