Reductions in Force

2015 Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

2015 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 and Florida specify that in determining which teachers to lay off during a reduction in force, classroom performance, as measured by the evaluation system, is the top criterion. There states also articulate that seniority can only be considered after a teacher's performance is taken into account.

Best practice 0

States

Meets goal 15

States

Nearly meets goal 4

States

Meets goal in part 3

States

Meets a small part of goal 0

States

Does not meet goal 29

States

Progress on this goal since 2013

  • Improved
  • Stayed the same
  • Regressed
How we graded

Research rationale

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. 

Reductions in Force: Supporting Research
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); D. Boyd, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority v. Measures of Effectiveness", Calder Institute, July 2010, Brief 12; D. Goldhaber and R. Theobald, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." Calder Institute, Working Paper 55, December 2010; C. Sepe and M. Roza, "The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students." Center on Reinventing Public Education, May 2010.