Tenure : Idaho

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Tenure : Idaho results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/ID-Tenure--8

Analysis of Idaho's policies

Idaho does not connect tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Based on recent legislation, the state now has two categories of annual contracts: one that is available to teachers in the "first or greater" years of employment, and another limited two-year contract that may be offered to teachers in their "fourth or greater" years of employment.

Although the state has effectively eliminated continuing contract status, it appears Idaho has maintained its three-year probationary period, after which there is no defined meaningful process that examines cumulative effectiveness in the classroom. 


Recommendations for Idaho

End the automatic awarding of tenure.
The decision to grant tenure should be a deliberate one, based on consideration of a teacher's commitment and actual evidence of classroom effectiveness. 

Ensure evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant criterion in tenure decisions.
Idaho should make evidence of effectiveness, rather than the number of years in the classroom, the most significant factor when determining this leap in professional standing.

Articulate a process that local districts must administer when deciding which teachers get tenure.
Idaho should require a clear process, such as a hearing, to ensure that the local district reviews a teacher's performance before making a determination regarding tenure. 

Require a longer probationary period.
Idaho should extend its probationary period, ideally to five years. This would allow for an adequate collection of sufficient data that reflect teacher performance. 

State response to our analysis

Idaho asserted that its new legislation is phasing out tenure. The state's Category A contract is limited to one year for the first or greater years of continuous employment; its Category B contract is limited to a two-year contract for four or more years of continuous employment. Teachers who already have tenure are grandfathered in, but seniority is eliminated as a criterion in reduction in force, and building principals have the authority to select new staff at the school level.  

Last word

There is no indication that the state requires an additional process evaluating cumulative evidence of teacher effectiveness prior to allowing a teacher to earn a Category B contract. 

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.