Tenure : Illinois

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy


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

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

Analysis of Illinois's policies

Illinois could do more to connect tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness.

The state requires a four-year probationary period, after which a teacher is eligible for nonprobationary status, or contractual continued service. To qualify for nonprobationary status, teachers must receive four consecutive overall evaluation ratings consisting of at least "proficient" in the last term (school year) and at least "proficient" in either the second or third term. If at the end of four years, the teacher does not qualify for nonprobationary status, then he or she is dismissed.

Teachers in Illinois may also qualify for "accelerated" contractual continued service with three consecutive terms in which the teacher receives overall evaluation ratings of "excellent."

Because Illinois's teacher evaluation ratings are not centered primarily on evidence of student learning (see Goal 3-B), basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness is considered, but does not ensure it is the preponderant criterion.


Recommendations for Illinois

Ensure evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant criterion in tenure decisions.
Illinois 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. 

Ensure the probationary period is adequate.
Illinois should make certain its probationary period allows for a collection of sufficient data that reflect teacher performance. 

State response to our analysis

Illinois recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. 

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.