Tenure

2017 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2017 Goals for Tenure

The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Best practices

Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada, and New York all link tenure decisions to evidence of effectiveness. Hawaii requires teachers to earn at least two consecutive overall ratings of effective or better. Indiana requires a probationary teacher to receive evaluation ratings of either effective or highly effective for three years over a five-year period. A professional teacher in Indiana reverts to probationary status after receiving an ineffective evaluation rating. Nevada requires probationary teachers to demonstrate two years of at least effective performance on each teacher evaluation within a three-year period before they earn tenure. A postprobationary teacher who receives a rating of developing or ineffective for two consecutive years must then be deemed probationary and serve an additional probationary period. New York requires teachers to be rated effective or highly effective for three out of four years. Teachers who are rated effective or highly effective for the first three years of the probationary period but are rated ineffective in the fourth year will not receive tenure.

Evaluation policies in Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada and New York do not allow teachers rated ineffective for student growth to be rated effective overall. Therefore, basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness is appropriately considered.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Tenure national results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/national/Tenure-79
Best practice 4

States

Meets goal 1

State

Nearly meets goal 7

States

Meets goal in part 8

States

Meets a small part of goal 5

States

Does not meet goal 26

States

Do states require that evidence of teacher effectiveness is considered in the tenure process?

2017
Figure details

Yes. State requires evidence of effectiveness to be the determinative factor in tenure decisions.: HI, IN, NV, NY

Partially. State requires some evidence of effectiveness to be considered in tenure decisions.: AZ, CO, CT, DE, ID, IL, LA, MA, MI, NJ, SC, TN, VA, WA, WY

No. State does not require evidence of effectiveness to be considered; tenure is granted virtually automatically.: AK, AL, AR, CA, DC, GA, IA, KY, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, ND, NE, NH, NM, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WV

Not applicable. State does not offer tenure.: FL, KS, NC, WI

How we graded

9B: Tenure

  • Evidence of Effectiveness: The state should require:
    • That tenure decisions be based on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of classroom effectiveness.
    • That evidence of effectiveness be the determinative factor in tenure decisions.
Evidence of Effectiveness
The total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if the evaluation system requires that teachers cannot be rated as overall effective if they receive an ineffective student growth rating.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if its evaluation system requires between 33 and 50 percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating to be based on student growth.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if the evaluation system requires less than 33 percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating to be based on student growth.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if an evaluation process exists for granting teachers tenure, but the process does not require evidence of student growth.

Research rationale

Tenure should be a significant and consequential milestone in a teacher's career. The decision to give teachers tenure (or permanent status) is usually made automatically, with little thought, deliberation or consideration of actual performance.[1] State policy should reflect the fact that initial certification is temporary and probationary, and that tenure is intended to be a significant reward for teachers who have consistently shown effectiveness and commitment.[2] Tenure and advanced certification are not rights implied by the conferring of an initial teaching certificate. No other profession, including higher education, offers practitioners tenure after only a few years of working in the field.[3]

States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions.[4] Most states confer tenure at a point that is too early for the collection of sufficient and adequate data that reflect teacher performance. Ideally, states would accumulate such data for four to five years. This robust data set would prevent effective teachers from being unfairly denied tenure based on too little data and ineffective teachers from being granted tenure.


[1] For evidence on the potential benefits of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure see: Loeb, S., Miller, L. C., & Wyckoff, J. (2015). Performance screens for school improvement: The case of teacher tenure reform in New York City. Educational Researcher, 44(4), 199-212. Retrieved from http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Performance%20Screens.pdf
[2] Gordon, R. J., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/identifying-effective-teachers-using-performance-on-the-job/; Goldhaber and Hansen conclude that if districts ensured that the bottom performing 25 percent of all teachers up for tenure each year did not earn it, approximately 13 percent more than current levels, student achievement could be significantly improved. By routinely denying tenure to the bottom 25 percent of eligible teachers, the impact on student achievement would be equivalent to reducing class size across-the-board by 5 students a class. See: Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2010). Assessing the potential of using value-added estimates of teacher job performance for making tenure decisions (Working Paper 31). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001369_assessing_the_potential.pdf
[3] For evidence on the potential of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure, see: Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2010). Assessing the potential of using value-added estimates of teacher job performance for making tenure decisions (Working Paper 31). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001369_assessing_the_potential.pdf
[4] For additional evidence, see: Gordon, R. J., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/identifying-effective-teachers-using-performance-on-the-job/