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. This was reorganized in 2021.
Factors to Consider: Nevada requires that reductions in force must be based solely on the teacher's effectiveness as measured by the state's evaluation system. Ineffective teachers must be laid off first, then developing ones, followed by, respectively, those rated effective and highly effective.
However, Nevada undermines this policy. Districts are not required to take action "with regard to a teacher who teaches in a school in the district in a subject area for which there is a shortage of teachers, which may include, without limitation, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, special education and English as a second language." This indicates that districts have discretion in the criteria they use to lay off teachers in shortage areas..
After layoffs have been determined using performance and it is determined that a further reduction in the workforce is needed, the board must layoff personnel who have a criminal record that resulted in suspension or have a disciplinary action on record. Following that, the criteria below are considered when laying off a teacher:
Require that districts consider teacher effectiveness as the most important factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Nevada may continue to provide districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but it should do so within a framework that ensures that teacher effectiveness is the most influential factor. Further, although Nevada does not require that districts consider seniority in making layoff decisions, it should codify a requirement that would prevent districts from making layoff decisions solely on this basis.
Nevada recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis; however, this analysis was updated subsequent to the state's review.
"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.