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.
Indiana considers teacher performance 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, 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 a RIF. It appears that only school corporations within the Southern District Court jurisdiction are subject to this decision.
IC 20-28-7.5-1 Federal District Court Decision on RIF http://www.indiana-asbo.org/federal-district-court-decision-on-rif/
As a result of Indiana’s strong reductions in force policies, no recommendations are provided.
Indiana had no comment on this goal.
LIFO policies put
adult interests before student needs.
Across the country, most districts utilize "last in, first out" policies in the event of teacher layoffs. Most states leave these decisions to district discretion; some 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.
Reductions in Force: Supporting Research
See National Council on Teacher Quality, "Teacher Layoffs: Rethinking 'Last-Hired, First-Fired' Policies", 2010; The New Teacher Project, "The Case Against Quality-Blind Teacher Layoffs" (2011); D. Boyd, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority v. Measures of Effectiveness", Calder Institute, July 2010, Brief 12; D. Goldhaber and R. Theobald, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." Calder Institute, Working Paper 55, December 2010; C. Sepe and M. Roza, "The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students." Center on Reinventing Public Education, May 2010.