Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
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.
Link to ineffectiveness: The District of Columbia has no policy governing teacher dismissal. Unfortunately, strong policy exists only at the local school district level. The District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) system's IMPACT evaluation program ensures that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Due process distinction: Because the District of Columbia has no policy governing teacher dismissal, it fails to make a distinction between the process and accompanying due process rights for dismissal for classroom ineffectiveness and dismissal for morality violations, felonies or dereliction of duty. However, the DCPS IMPACT guidebook specifies that individuals who receive ineffective ratings are "subject to separation from the school system."
Appeals process: Because the District of Columbia has no policy governing teacher dismissal, it fails to ensure that teachers terminated for poor performance have the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame. However, DCPS teachers who are terminated have one opportunity to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher may file an appeal to the Superintendent of Schools within 10 days. The time frame for the hearing, however, is not addressed.
DCPS IMPACT https://dcps.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dcps/publication/attachments/1.%20General%20Education%20Teachers%20with%20Individual%20Value-Added%20Student%20Achievement%20Data.pdf
Codify policies to ensure that ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Although the IMPACT system implemented by DCPS represents a significant policy advancement in the areas of teacher evaluation, tenure, placement and dismissal, these are DCPS-specific and not District-wide policies. The District of Columbia is encouraged to codify its teacher-dismissal requirements in statute and/or regulation.
The District of Columbia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.
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. Teachers are not well served by such processes either, as they are entitled to final resolution quickly.
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.