Reductions in Force: Alabama

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Reductions in Force: Alabama results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Alabama's policies

In Alabama, the factors used by districts to determine which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force are decided at the district level and must be based on "objective criteria."


Recommendations for Alabama

Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Alabama can still leave districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but it should do so within a framework that ensures that classroom performance is considered.  

Ensure that seniority is not the only factor used to determine which teachers are laid off.
Unlike some states, Alabama does not require that districts consider seniority; however, the state should do more to prevent districts from making decisions solely on this basis.  

State response to our analysis

Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that "as noted in response to Goals 5-B and 5-C, EDUCATE Alabama is a formative rather than a summative process. Employment decisions are made by local boards of education based on the recommendations of local superintendents of education. School system personnel are advised to use progressive discipline procedures when teachers' performance is less than acceptable and does not improve."

Last word

This issue in this goal is not whether districts use "progressive discipline procedures" with low-performing teachers but whether districts will consider performance in deciding which teachers to lay off in a reduction in force.   While still allowing local flexibility, the state should send a clear message that the "last in, first out" policies that predominate are not in the best interest of students.  

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).