Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should base tenure decisions on an appropriate number of years in the classroom. This goal was not graded in 2017.
Length of Probationary Period: Montana teachers are awarded tenure after a three-year probationary period.
Montana Code Annotated 20-4-203
Require a longer probationary period.
Montana should ensure that its probationary period is of sufficient length to allow for the collection of data that adequately reflect teacher performance.
Montana recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
Tenure should be a significant and consequential milestone in a teacher's career. The decision to give teachers tenure (or permanent status) is usually made automatically, with little thought, deliberation or consideration of actual performance. State policy should reflect the fact that initial certification is temporary and probationary, and that tenure is intended to be a significant reward for teachers who have consistently shown effectiveness and commitment. Tenure and advanced certification are not rights implied by the conferring of an initial teaching certificate. No other profession, including higher education, offers practitioners tenure after only a few years of working in the field.
States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions. Most states confer tenure at a point that is too early for the collection of sufficient and adequate data that reflect teacher performance. Ideally, states would accumulate such data for four to five years. This robust data set would prevent effective teachers from being unfairly denied tenure based on too little data and ineffective teachers from being granted tenure.