Tenure: District of Columbia

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal remains unchanged in 2021.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). Tenure: District of Columbia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/DC-Tenure-97

Analysis of District of Columbia's policies

Link to evidence of effectiveness: The District of Columbia does not connect tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness. 

Basis for tenure: The District of Columbia does not require any process that evaluates cumulative evidence of teacher effectiveness in order to receive tenure.

Citation

Recommendations for District of Columbia

Ensure that tenure decisions are based on evidence of effectiveness.
The District of Columbia should make cumulative evidence of effectiveness, rather than number of years in the classroom, the basis for awarding teachers the leap in professional standing that tenure represents.

State response to our analysis

The District of Columbia asserted that although OSSE does not articulate tenure requirements, all public school teachers in DC teach in either DCPS or in one of our public charter school LEAs. DC's charter school LEAs do not award tenure. DCPS maintains an evaluation system, IMPACT, which includes objective evidence of student learning and growth and requires individuals who receive a rating of "developing" for three consecutive years or "minimally effective" for two consecutive years to be subject to separation from the school system. The IMPACT system also requires that individuals who receive an "ineffective" rating are subject to separation. DCPS policy is included in some, but not all, of the relevant analyses. To help ensure internal consistency, we've included it here.

Updated: March 2021

How we graded

9B: Tenure

  • Evidence of Effectiveness: The state should require:
    • That tenure decisions be based on cumulative evidence of teacher effectiveness in the classroom, as measured by objective evidence of student growth.
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 state's evaluation system requires the inclusion of student growth. 
  • Three-quarter credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it bases tenure requirements on evidence of effectiveness, as measured by student growth, but does not use cumulative evidence of effectiveness. 
  • 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/