2013 Exiting Ineffective 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.
Hawaii's evaluation system makes an overall unsatisfactory performance rating grounds for dismissal. The state also distinguishes between the due process rights of teachers
dismissed for unsatisfactory performance as determined by annual
performance evaluations and those facing other charges commonly
associated with license revocation such as a felony and/or morality
After receiving notice of dismissal following an unsatisfactory evaluation, the teacher has 20 days to file a grievance with the Superintendent, and a meeting between the Superintendent and the teacher must be held within five days thereafter. A decision regarding the grievance is delivered to the teacher within five days of the meeting. The teacher may file an appeal with a Performance Judge within 10 days of the grievance decision, and the judge must be selected within 20 days. While the Performance Judge has 30 days to issue a decision after the case is heard, no time frame is specified for the hearing. The decision of the Performance Judge is final and binding.
Hawaii Professional Evaluation Program for Teachers (PEP-T): Manual for Evaluators and Participants Tentative Settlement Between The Hawaii State Teachers Association And The State of Hawaii and Board of Education 2013-2017 http://www.hsta.org/images/uploads/0324_Web_Ratification_Doc_final_RC-_1130_am_3-24-13.pdf Hawaii Board Policy 2055 Educator Effectiveness System Manual http://eesteacher.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/0/3/14039000/ees_manual_v1_3_online.pdf
Ensure that the appeals process occurs within a reasonable time frame.
Hawaii is commended for making unsatisfactory performance ratings grounds for dismissal. Whether or not the state considers internal reviews or meetings to be appeals, multiple opportunities to review a decision to terminate a teacher delays the process and could create a disincentive to attempt to terminate poor performers. The state is encouraged to establish more time-sensitive parameters for its appeals process, as it is in the best interest of both teacher and school system to reach a conclusion within a reasonable time frame.
Hawaii noted that the memorandum of understanding in the new teacher contract sets forth a process for teachers rated as marginal to make an expedited appeal and receive an expedited review of the case.
The expedited appeals process referred to by the state refers to an evaluation rating and not dismissal. Under this process, a teacher can appeal a marginal rating, not dismissal.
States need to be explicit that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Most states have laws on their books that address teacher dismissal; however, these laws are much more likely to consider criminal and moral violations than performance. When performance is included, it is too often in a euphemistic term 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.
Nonprobationary 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 poor performances. 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.
Dismissal for Poor Performance: Supporting Research
One of the greatest shortcomings of teacher performance appraisals has been school systems' unwillingness and inability to differentiate instructional competency. The New Teacher Project, 2009, "The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness" at http://widgeteffect.org.
See NCTQ, State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies (2011) as well as studies by The New Teacher Project of human resource and dismissal policies in various districts at: http://tntp.org/ideas-and-innovations.
For information on the high cost of teacher dismissals, see Steven Brill, "The Rubber Room," The New Yorker, August 31, 2009 at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill;
Also, see S. Reeder, "The Hidden Costs of Tenure: Why are Failing Teachers Getting a Passing Grade?" Small Newspaper Group, 2005 at: http://thehiddencostsoftenure.com.