Dismissal for Poor Performance: Illinois

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

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.

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Dismissal for Poor Performance: Illinois results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/IL-Dismissal-for-Poor-Performance-10

Analysis of Illinois's policies

New legislation in Illinois specifically identifies classroom ineffectiveness as grounds for dismissal. For teachers placed on remediation plans for poor performance who receive a subsequent "unsatisfactory" performance rating within three years, "the school district may forego remediation and seek dismissal."

The state also distinguishes the due process rights of teachers dismissed for ineffective performance from those facing other charges commonly associated with license revocation such as a felony and/or morality violations. 

For teachers that have received an "unsatisfactory" performance evaluation and failed to complete a remediation with a rating of "proficient" or better, there is an "optional alternative evaluative dismissal process." The teacher must receive written notice of dismissal within 30 days of the final remediation evaluation. Each party has two days to present evidence at a hearing before a hearing officer. The hearing officer must have completed a pre-qualification program designed for performance evaluators, which involves rigorous training and "an independent observer's determination that the evaluator's ratings properly align to the requirements established by the State Board." The hearing officer must issue "findings of fact and recommendation" within 30 days of the hearing's close to the State Board of Education, which then issues a decision within 45 days. An additional appeal to the appellate court—for judicial review—is also permitted within 35 days. The cost of this appeal is borne by the teacher.

Citation

Recommendations for Illinois

Ensure that the appeal process occurs within a reasonable time frame and that due process rights are distinguished between dismissal for classroom ineffectiveness and dismissal for morality violations, felonies, or dereliction of duty.
Illinois is commended for differentiating due process rights between loss of employment and issues with far-reaching consequences that could permanently impact a teacher's right to practice through its new "optional alternative evaluative dismissal process." However, by making this dismissal process "optional" and an "alternative," districts have the potential to opt out of this more expedient process. In addition, Illinois should ensure that the opportunity to appeal occurs only once and only at the district level. 

State response to our analysis

Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

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://www.tntp.org/.

For information on the high cost of teacher dismissals, see Steve Brill, "The Rubber Room," New Yorker, August 31, 2009 at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill.
 
Also, see Scott Reeder, "The Hidden Costs of Tenure: Why are Failing Teachers Getting a Passing Grade?" Small Newspaper Group, 2005 at:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/research/1135269736359.pdf.