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.
In Minnesota, the factors used by districts to determine which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force consider a teacher's tenure status and seniority. School districts may only lay off tenured teachers after notice has been given to nontenured teachers. Nontenured teachers are placed on "unrequested leave first in the inverse order of their employment." Tenured teachers are also placed on "unrequested leave of absence in fields in which they are licensed in inverse order in which they were employed by the school district."
Minnesota Statute 120A.40, sec. 11
Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Minnesota can still leave districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but it should do so within a framework that ensures that classroom performance is considered.
Ensure that seniority is not the only factor used to determine which teachers are laid off.
While it is not unreasonable to lay off probationary teachers before those with tenure, doing so based solely on seniority and without also considering performance risks sacrificing effective teachers while maintaining low performers, putting adult interests before student needs. Further, because probationary teachers draw lower salaries, the state may in fact be mandating that districts dismiss a larger number of effective probationary teachers rather than a smaller group of ineffective tenured teachers to achieve the same budget reduction.
Minnesota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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); Boyd, Donald; Lankford, Hamilton; Loeb, Susanna; and Wyckoff, James, "Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority v. Measures of Effectiveness" The Urban Institute, CALDER (2010); Goldhaber, Dan and Theobold, Roddy, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." Center for Education Data & Research, University of Washington-Bothell (2010); Sepe, Christina and Roza, Marguerite, "The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students." Center on Reinventing Public Education (2010).