Dismissal for Poor Performance: North Dakota

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate that ineffective classroom performance is grounds for dismissal and ensure that the process for terminating ineffective teachers is expedient and fair to all parties.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Dismissal for Poor Performance: North Dakota results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/ND-Dismissal-for-Poor-Performance-10

Analysis of North Dakota's policies

In North Dakota, tenured teachers who are terminated have multiple opportunities to appeal. When a school district wishes to dismiss a teacher for cause, a hearing is held by an administrative law judge. Once the hearing has concluded, the judge has 30 days to issue findings of fact and conclusions to the school board, after which the teacher may file an additional appeal with the district court. The state does not specify the time frame for the hearing or the appeal.

North Dakota does not explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal, nor does the state distinguish the due process rights of teachers dismissed for ineffective performance from those facing other charges commonly associated with license revocation, such as a felony and/or morality violations. The process is the same regardless of the grounds for cancellation, which include immoral conduct, insubordination, conviction of a felony, unbecoming conduct, failure to perform duties, gross inefficiency and continuing physical or mental disability.

Citation

Recommendations for North Dakota

Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
"Failure to perform duties" is ambiguous at best and may be interpreted as concerning dereliction of duty rather than ineffectiveness. North Dakota should explicitly make teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal so that districts do not feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers.

Ensure that teachers terminated for poor performance have the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame.
Nonprobationary teachers who are dismissed for any grounds, including ineffectiveness, are entitled to due process. North Dakota should articulate policy that provides nonprobationary teachers an opportunity to appeal district decisions to terminate their contracts. However, cases that drag on for years drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate poor performers. Therefore, the state must ensure that the opportunity to appeal occurs only once and only at the district level. It is in the best interest of both the teacher and the district that a conclusion is reached within a reasonable time frame. 

Distinguish the process and accompanying due process rights between dismissal for classroom ineffectiveness and dismissal for morality violations, felonies or dereliction of duty.
While nonprobationary teachers should have due process for any termination, it is important to differentiate between loss of employment and issues with far-reaching consequences that could permanently impact a teacher's right to practice. North Dakota should ensure that appeals related to classroom effectiveness are only decided by those with educational expertise.    

State response to our analysis

North Dakota had no comment on this goal.

Research rationale

One of the greatest shortcomings of teacher performance appraisals has been school systems' unwillingness and inability to differentiate instructional competency. The New Teacher Project, 2009, "The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness" at http://widgeteffect.org/

See NCTQ, State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies (2011) as well as studies by The New Teacher Project of human resource and dismissal policies in various districts at: http://www.tntp.org/.

For information on the high cost of teacher dismissals, see Steve Brill, "The Rubber Room," New Yorker, August 31, 2009 at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill.
 
Also, see Scott Reeder, "The Hidden Costs of Tenure: Why are Failing Teachers Getting a Passing Grade?" Small Newspaper Group, 2005 at:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/research/1135269736359.pdf.