The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal remains unchanged in 2021.
Link to Evidence of Effectiveness: During the third year of employment, an evaluation is required before the second semester. If performance is unsatisfactory, the board establishes a period of probation not fewer than eight weeks. After the probationary period, the board may retain, immediately discharge, discharge on termination of current contract, or reemploy at the end of the current contract. There is no defined meaningful process that examines cumulative effectiveness in the classroom.
Basis for Tenure: Idaho's teacher evaluation ratings include objective measures of student growth; therefore, classroom effectiveness is considered when making tenure decisions. The state limits teacher contract terms to just one year; however, tenure in Idaho is awarded after the probationary period.
Idaho Code 33-514, -515
Ensure that tenure decisions are based on evidence of effectiveness.
Idaho 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. Although the state directly connects evaluation ratings to tenure decisions, it may want to reconsider its policy of focusing on only one rating and instead examine cumulative evidence when making decisions regarding tenure.
Idaho indicated that Idaho Code §33-515 requires the certificated individual to hold a Professional Endorsement to be placed on a renewable contract. The Professional Endorsement requires they meet professional compensation rung criteria, Idaho Code 33-1001(19), which is based on evaluations and student achievement targets.
According to language in 33-1201A: To be eligible for an Idaho professional endorsement, the instructional staff or pupil service staff employee must: Show they met the professional compensation rung performance criteria for two (2) of the three (3) previous years or the third year. Upon additional outreach to the state, Idaho clarified that if an individual meets all the criteria in the third year, that would be sufficient to earn the professional endorsement. Otherwise, they would need to meet it in both year 1 and year 2. Idaho is therefore urged to require cumulative evidence of teacher effectiveness in the classroom when making tenure decisions.
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. 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. 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.
States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions. 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.