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 Nebraska, the factors used by districts to determine which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force consider a teacher's tenure status and are decided at the district level. School districts may only lay off tenured teachers after notice has been given to nontenured teachers. In addition, performance is permitted—but not required—to be used as a factor. If "employee evaluation" is used, then "specific criteria such as frequency of evaluation, evaluation forms, and number and length of classroom observations shall be included as part of the reduction in force policy."
Nebraska Statute 79-846
Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Nebraska 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 tenure 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 this without also considering performance is in effect a proxy for seniority-based layoffs and risks sacrificing effective teachers while maintaining low performers. 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.
Nebraska 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).