Dismissal

2017 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2017 Goals for Dismissal

The state should articulate that ineffective classroom performance is grounds for dismissal and ensure that the process for terminating ineffective teachers is expedient and fair to all parties. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Best practices

Both Nevada and New York require ineffectiveness in the classroom to be grounds for dismissal, and the appeals process occurs within a reasonable time frame. In Nevada, all postprobationary teachers return to probationary status if they receive two consecutive years of less-than-effective evaluation ratings. Those who face dismissal charges may opt for an expedited hearing. Once notice is given, a teacher may request a hearing before a hearing officer within 15 days. Within 30 days of the selection of a hearing officer, the hearing must be held. A report must then be filed within 15 days and the decision of the State Board is final. In New York, teachers can be dismissed for incompetency through a streamlined process if they receive a rating of ineffective for two or more years in a row. Upon written notice, a teacher has 10 days to file a request for a hearing by a single hearing officer. For teachers who have received two consecutive ineffective ratings, this process must not take longer than 90 days from the hearing request date. For teachers who have received three consecutive ineffective ratings, the timeline must not be longer than 30 days.

Best practice 2

States

Meets goal 2

States

Nearly meets goal 4

States

Meets goal in part 15

States

Meets a small part of goal 11

States

Does not meet goal 17

States

Progress on this goal since 2015

  • Improved
  • Stayed the same
  • Regressed

Do states articulate that instructional ineffectiveness is adequate grounds for dismissing a teacher?

2017
2015
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Yes: AZ, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WA, WV, WY

No : AK, AL, AR, CA, DC, IA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, WI

Are states’ dismissal policies fair and efficient?

2017
2015
Add previous year
Figure details

Yes. State permits dismissal decisions to be appealed once. : FL, HI, IN, KS, LA, NV, NY, OK, WI

Partially. State permits dismissal decisions to be appealed multiple times for teachers dismissed for reasons other than ineffectiveness. : CO, TN

No. State permits all dismissal decisions to be appealed multiple times.: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CT, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, VA, WA, WV, WY

No. State has no policy -- or an unclear policy -- regarding dismissal.: DC, ME, NE, UT, VT

How we graded

9D: Dismissal

  • Evidence of Effectiveness: The state should articulate that teachers may be dismissed for ineffective classroom performance. Any teacher who receives two consecutive, summative ratings of ineffective, or two such ratings within five years, should be formally eligible for dismissal, regardless of tenure status.
  • Appeals Process: A teacher who is terminated for poor performance should have the opportunity to appeal only once. The state should require that the appeals process occurs within a reasonable time frame.
  • Due Process: The state should ensure that there is a clear distinction between the appeals process and accompanying due process rights for teachers dismissed for ineffective classroom performance and those dismissed, or are facing license revocation, for felony, morality violations, or dereliction of duties.
Evidence of Effectiveness
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it articulates that teachers may be dismissed for ineffective classroom performance regardless of tenure status.
Appeals Process
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it requires the appeals process for teachers facing dismissal for ineffective classroom performance to occur within a reasonable time frame.
Due Process
One-quarter of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if there is a clear distinction between the appeals process and accompanying due process rights for teachers dismissed for ineffective classroom performance and those dismissed for felony, morality violations, or dereliction of duties.

Research rationale

States need to be explicit that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Most states have laws on their books that address teacher dismissal; however, until recently these laws were much more likely to consider criminal and moral violations than performance. While many states have amended their dismissal policy to be more explicit about classroom ineffectiveness, some still retain euphemistic terms such as "incompetency," "inefficiency," or "incapacity." These terms are ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. Without laws that clearly state that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal, districts may feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers.[1]

Due process must be efficient and expedited. Non-probationary teachers who are dismissed for any grounds, including ineffectiveness, are entitled to due process. However, due process rights that allow for multiple levels of appeal are not fair to teachers, districts and especially students. All parties have a right to have disputes settled quickly. Cases that drag on for years drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate teachers for poor performance.[2] Teachers are not well served by such processes either, as they are entitled to final resolution quickly.[3]

Decisions about teachers should be made by those with educational expertise.
Multiple levels of appeal almost invariably involve courts or arbitrators who lack educational expertise. It is not in students' best interest to have the evidence of teachers' effectiveness evaluated by those who are not educators. A teacher's opportunity to appeal should occur at the district level and involve only those with educational expertise. This can be done in a manner that is fair to all parties by including retired teachers or other knowledgeable individuals who are not current district employees.


[1] One of the greatest shortcomings of teacher performance appraisals has been school systems' unwillingness and inability to differentiate instructional competency. See: Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., & Keeling, D. (2009). The widget effect: Our national failure to acknowledge and act on differences in teacher effectiveness. The New Teacher Project. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED515656.pdf&sa=D&ust=1508185360843000&usg=AFQjCNG_FOzv9usICvWem-xNf0Ny71KcMg
[2] For information on the high cost of teacher dismissals, see: Brill, S. (2009). The rubber room: The battle over New York City's worst teachers. The New Yorker, 85(26), 31. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill; Also, see: Small Newspaper Group. (2005). The hidden costs of tenure: Why are failing teachers getting a passing grade? Retrieved from http://thehiddencostsoftenure.com
[3] National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). State of the states: Trends and early lessons on teacher evaluation and effectiveness policies. Retrieved from http://www.nctq.org/dmsView/State_of_the_States_Teacher_Evaluation_and_Effectiveness_Policies_NCTQ_Report; Refer also to studies by The New Teacher Project of human resource and dismissal policies in various districts at: https://tntp.org/publications/scroll/school-staffing-employment-policy