Reductions in Force

2011 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Reductions in Force

The state should require that its school districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off when a reduction in force is necessary.

Best practices

Colorado, Florida and Indiana all specify that in determining which teachers to lay off during a reduction in force, classroom performance is the top criterion.  These states also articulate that seniority can only be considered after a teacher's performance is taken into account.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Reductions in Force national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Reductions-in-Force-10
Best practice 3

States

Meets goal 6

States

Nearly meets goal 4

States

Meets goal in part 4

States

Meets a small part of goal 0

States

Does not meet goal 34

States

How we graded

LIFO policies put adult interests before student needs.  

Across the country, most districts utilize "last in, first out" policies in the event of teacher layoffs.  Most states leave these decisions to district discretion; some 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.  

Research rationale

See National Council on Teacher Quality, "Teacher Layoffs: Rethinking 'Last Hired, First-Fired' Policies." (2010); The New Teacher Project, The Case Against Quality-Blind Teacher Layoffs (2011); Boyd, Donald; Lankford, Hamilton; Loeb, Susanna; and Wyckoff, James, "Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority v. Measures of Effectiveness" The Urban Institute, CALDER (2010);  Goldhaber, Dan and Theobold, Roddy, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." Center for Education Data & Research, University of Washington-Bothell (2010); Sepe, Christina and Roza, Marguerite, "The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students." Center on Reinventing Public Education (2010).

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