Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require that its school districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off when a reduction in force is necessary. This was reorganized in 2021.
Factors to Consider: Indiana considers a teacher's performance category as the top
criterion for districts to use in determining which teachers are laid
off during reductions in force. The cancellation of teachers' contracts
due to a decrease in the number of teaching positions is to be
"determined on the basis of performance rather than seniority." In
addition, if teachers are placed in the same performance category, the
following may be considered to determine which teachers are laid off: 1)
years of experience; 2) attainment of additional content-area degrees
or credit hours beyond the requirements for employment; 3) evaluation
results; 4) instructional leadership roles; and 5) academic needs of
However, Indiana no longer requires student growth to factor into a teacher's evaluation rating. Therefore, the state cannot ensure that effectiveness in the classroom is considered when it comes to reductions in force.
Additionally, in March 2015, a federal district court judge for the southern part of the state found the underlying statute, passed in 2011, unconstitutional as applied to tenured teachers, citing case law that required the retention of tenured teachers over nontenured teachers during reductions in force. It appears that only school corporations within the Southern District Court jurisdiction are subject to this decision.
IC 20-28-7.5-1 and IC-20-28-9-1.5 Elliott v. Bd. of Sch. Trs. of Madison Consol. Sch. March 12, 2015 United States District Court Southern District of Indiana
Require that districts consider teacher effectiveness as the most important factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Indiana may continue to provide districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but it should do so within a framework that ensures that teacher effectiveness is the most influential factor.
Indiana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, however this analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
"Last In, First Out (LIFO)" policies put adult interests before student needs, yet most districts across the country still use these policies in the event of teacher layoffs. While most states leave these decisions to district discretion, other states require layoffs to be based on seniority. Such policies fail to give due weight to a teacher's classroom performance and risk sacrificing effective teachers while maintaining low performers.
Policies that prioritize seniority in layoff decisions can also cause significant upheaval in schools and school districts. As teachers who are newer to the classroom traditionally draw lower salaries, a seniority-based layoff policy is likely to require that districts lay off a larger number of probationary teachers rather than a smaller group of ineffective teachers to achieve the same budget reduction.
States can leave districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but they should do so while also ensuring that classroom performance is considered. Further, if performance is prioritized, states need not prohibit the use of seniority as an additional criterion in determining who is laid off.