IL: Performance is determinative criteria for cities less than 500K inhabitants. For Chicago, performance is one of many criteria.
IN: Indiana's evaluation system no longer factors in objective measures of student growth.
MA: In Massachusetts, performance is used to determine reductions in force between teachers with like tenure status.
ME: Performance is explicitly allowed, however Maine's evaluation system does not require evidence of student growth.
NC: Teacher's evaluations are only required for teachers in "similar positions." However, student growth is not used as part of teacher evaluation ratings.
NE: Performance is explicitly allowed, however, evidence of student growth is not used as part of teacher evaluation ratings.
NV: Districts have discretion in the criteria they use to lay off teachers in shortage areas (such as STEM fields, special education and English as a second language).
OK: Performance is required, however Oklahoma's evaluation system is not based on evidence of student growth.
OR: Performance is explicitly allowed.
AK: Nontenured teachers are laid off first.
CO: Seniority and tenure may only be considered once teacher effectiveness is taken into account.
GA: Cannot be the sole or primary factor.
ID: Cannot be the sole factor.
IL: In Illinois, seniority may be considered between two tenured teachers with comparable performance ratings, in districts with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants.
IN: In Indiana, seniority may only be considered between two teachers with comparable performance ratings.
KY: Seniority and tenure status are the sole factors.
MA: In Massachusetts, non-tenured teachers are laid off first, and seniority may be considered between two tenured teachers with comparable performance ratings.
MI: In Michigan, seniority may only be considered between two teachers with comparable performance ratings.
NE: In Nebraska, nontenured teachers are laid off first.
NH: Can not be the sole factor.
NV: Seniority is considered only after performance and seven other criteria and only when there are two teachers with like situations.
PA: In Pennsylvania, seniority may be considered between two teachers with comparable performance ratings.
TX: Teacher effectiveness is the primary criterion.
WI: Sole factor for counties with populations of 750,000 or more and for teachers hired before 1995. All others, determined by districts
WV: Seniority may only be considered once teacher effectiveness is taken into account.
Updated: March 2021
Select another topic
How we graded
The total goal score is earned based on the following:
- Full credit: The state will earn full credit if teacher performance is the top criterion in reduction-in-force decisions.
- Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if performance is a required—but not the most influential—criterion in reduction-in-force decisions.
- One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if retention policies based solely on tenure or seniority are explicitly not allowed, but performance is not an explicitly required factor in reduction-in-force decisions.
- One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it explicitly allows performance as a factor in reduction-in-force decisions, but that performance is not necessarily tied to student growth.
"Last In, First Out (LIFO)" policies put adult interests before student needs, yet most districts across the country still use these policies in the event of teacher layoffs. While most states leave these decisions to district discretion, other states require layoffs to be based on seniority. Such policies fail to give due weight to a teacher's classroom performance and risk sacrificing effective teachers while maintaining low performers.
Policies that prioritize seniority in layoff decisions can also cause significant upheaval in schools and school districts. As teachers who are newer to the classroom traditionally draw lower salaries, a seniority-based layoff policy is likely to require that districts lay off a larger number of probationary teachers rather than a smaller group of ineffective teachers to achieve the same budget reduction.
States can leave districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but they should do so while also ensuring that classroom performance is considered. Further, if performance is prioritized, states need not prohibit the use of seniority as an additional criterion in determining who is laid off.
 See National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Teacher layoffs: Rethinking 'last-hired, first-fired' policies. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/Teacher_Layoffs_Rethinking_Last-Hired_First-Fired_Policies_NCTQ_Report; The New Teacher Project. (2011). The case against quality-blind teacher layoffs. Retrieved from http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_Case_Against_Quality_Blind_Layoffs_Feb2011F.pdf?files/TNTP_Case_Against_Quality_Blind_Layoffs_Feb2011F.pdf; Boyd, D., Lankford, H., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2011). Teacher layoffs: An empirical illustration of seniority versus measures of effectiveness. Education, 6(3), 439-454. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1001421-teacher-layoffs.pdf; Goldhaber, D., & Theobald, R. (2010). Assessing the determinants and implications of teacher layoffs (Working Paper 55). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1001496-Assessing-Teacher-Layoffs.pdf; Sepe, C., & Roza, M. (2010). The disproportionate impact of seniority-based layoffs on poor, minority students. Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington. Retrieved from http://crpe.org/publications/disproportionate-impact-seniority-based-layoffs-poor-minority-students