Tenure : Delaware

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Nearly meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Tenure : Delaware results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/DE-Tenure--8

Analysis of Delaware's policies

Delaware is on the right track in connecting tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness.

The state now requires that probationary teachers show two years of satisfactory student growth—evidenced by satisfactory ratings in the "student improvement" component of the teacher appraisal process—within a three-year period before they earn tenure.

Because Delaware's teacher evaluation ratings are centered primarily on evidence of student learning (see Goal 3-B), basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness is appropriately considered. 


Recommendations for Delaware

Ensure the probationary period is adequate.
To ensure tenure decisions are based on adequate assessment and sufficient evidence of teacher effectiveness in the classroom, Delaware should consider extending the time before teachers can earn tenure and requiring that probationary teachers earn at least three consecutive "effective" ratings prior to the award of tenure. 

State response to our analysis

Delaware asserted that technically, it does not grant "tenure," although many of the traditional functions of tenure have historically applied.

Last word

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

Research rationale

Numerous studies illustrate how difficult and uncommon the process is of dismissing tenured teachers for poor performance. These studies underscore the need for an extended probationary period that would allow teachers to demonstrate their capability to promote student performance.

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 D. Goldhaber and M. Hansen, "Assuming the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Center for Reinventing Public Education. (2009).  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.

For additional evidence see Robert Gordon, et al., "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, Brookings Institute, March 2006.