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. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Factors to consider: Michigan considers teacher effectiveness—measured by a performance evaluation—as the top criterion for districts to use in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force. The state articulates that "a teacher who has been rated as ineffective under the performance evaluation system is not given any preference that would result in that teacher being retained over a teacher who is evaluated as minimally effective, effective, or highly effective." A teacher's effectiveness is based on such factors as evidence of student growth, a teacher's demonstrated pedagogical skills, classroom management, attendance and disciplinary records, relevant accomplishments and contributions, and relevant special training. When these factors distinguishing two or more employees are equal, length of service may be used as a tiebreaker.
MCL Section 380.1248
As a result of Michigan's strong reductions-in-force policies, no recommendations are provided.
Michigan recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
"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.