Tenure: Arizona

2017 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Nearly meets

Analysis of Arizona's policies

Link to Evidence of Effectiveness: Arizona requires that teachers beginning their fourth year of employment who receive an ineffective evaluation rating must retain their probationary status. Tenured teachers—which are known as "continuing teachers" in Arizona—who receive an ineffective rating will revert to probationary status for the subsequent school year and remain a probationary teacher until earning either an effective or highly effective evaluation rating. 

Basis for Tenure: Arizona's teacher evaluation ratings include objective measures of student growth; therefore, classroom effectiveness is considered when making tenure decisions. 

Citation

Recommendations for Arizona

Ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the determinative factor in tenure decisions. 
Arizona should make cumulative evidence of effectiveness, rather than number of years in the classroom, the most significant factor when awarding teachers the leap in professional standing that tenure represents. Although the state directly connects evaluation ratings to tenure decisions, it may want to reconsider its policy of focusing on only one rating and instead examine cumulative evidence when making decisions regarding tenure.

State response to our analysis

Arizona was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis. 

Updated: December 2017

Last word

For the purposes of this goal, the term "tenure" refers to the point at which a teacher is granted nonprobationary or continuing contract status.

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/