Tenure: Ohio

2015 Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Tenure: Ohio results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/OH-Tenure-71

Analysis of Ohio's policies

Ohio does not connect tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness.

To receive continuing contract status, a teacher must meet the following three criteria.

  • The teacher must hold a professional, permanent or life teacher's certificate.
  • The teacher must have held an educator license for at least seven years and have taught in the district at least three out of the last five years. 
  • If the teacher did not have a master's degree at the time of initial certification, then he or she must complete 30 semester hours of coursework in the licensure area. If the teacher had earned a master's degree at the time of initial licensure, then he or she must complete six semester hours of graduate coursework in the licensure area. 
In the past, Ohio articulated a Teacher Performance criterion, which required teachers to earn a final summative rating of proficient or accomplished on two of the three most recent evaluations. Never required by law, it was a commitment made by local educational agencies (LEAs) through Race to the Top. However, this criterion appears to no longer be a factor in continuing contract decisions. 

Citation

Recommendations for Ohio

Ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant criterion in tenure decisions.
Ohio should make evidence of effectiveness, rather than years in the classroom, the most significant factor when determining this leap in professional standing. The decision to grant tenure should be a deliberate one based on consideration of a teacher's commitment and actual evidence of classroom effectiveness. 

Ensure an adequate probationary period.
Ohio requires teachers to hold an educator license for at least seven years as a condition of continuing contract status; however, this requirement does not translate to years teaching in the classroom. The state articulates that to receive tenure, a teacher must have taught in the district at least three of the last five years. Although five years is an adequate probationary period, it is unclear whether a teacher could receive continuing contract status after having only taught for three years in the same district, assuming that the license was held for an additional four years. 

Articulate a process that local districts must administer when deciding which teachers get tenure.
Ohio should require a clear process, such as a hearing, to ensure that the local district reviews a teacher's performance before making a determination regarding tenure. 

Reconsider coursework requirement. 
Ohio's requirement of a master's degree or equivalent coursework is not only burdensome, but it also bears no connection to a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. 

State response to our analysis

Ohio recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that tenure is awarded to teachers in the form of a continuing contract. Districts (local school boards) award teacher tenure if the teacher meets the criteria for a continuing contract as outlined in the Ohio Revised Code and the districts' negotiated agreements. Criteria for teacher tenure include 1) licensure, 2) experience and 3) degree/coursework. A fourth proposed criterion is teacher performance.

Ohio then offered these additional explanations: 

1) To meet the licensure requirement, the teacher must hold one of the following: a professional certificate, a permanent certificate, a life teacher’s certificate, a professional educator license, a senior professional educator license or a lead professional educator license.

2) To meet the experience requirement, the teacher must have held an educator certificate/license for at least seven years and have taught in the district awarding tenure at least three out of the last five years. If a teacher held tenure in one district but moves to a different or second district, the teacher must have served for at least two years in the second district.

3) To meet the degree/coursework requirement, the teacher must have either a) completed 30 semesters hours of coursework in the area of licensure or in an area related to the teaching field since the initial issuance of the certificate/license if the teacher did not hold a master’s degree at the time of initial issuance of his or her certificate/license; or b) completed six semester hours of graduate coursework in the area of licensure or in an area related to the teaching field since the initial issuance of the certificate/license if the teacher held a master’s degree at the time of initial issuance of his or her certificate/license.

4) To meet the proposed teacher performance requirement, the teacher must earn a Final Summative Rating of proficient or accomplished on two of the three most recent years of his or her annual evaluation based on the Ohio Teacher Evaluation Framework. 

In addition, Ohio noted that at the local level, the board of education must include in its evaluation policy, procedures for using the evaluation results for retention-promotion decisions and for removal of poorly performing teachers. Seniority will not be the basis for teacher-retention decisions, except when deciding between teachers who have comparable evaluations.

How we graded

Research rationale

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.

Tenure: Supporting Research
Numerous studies illustrate how difficult and uncommon the process is of dismissing tenured teachers for poor performance. These studies underscore the need for an extended probationary period that would allow teachers to demonstrate their capability to promote student performance.

For evidence on the potential of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure see D. Goldhaber and M. Hansen, "Assessing the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Calder Institute, February 2010, Working Paper 31.  Goldhaber and Hansen conclude that if districts ensured that the bottom performing 25 percent of all teachers up for tenure each year did not earn it, approximately 13 percent more than current levels, student achievement could be significantly improved. By routinely denying tenure to the bottom 25 percent of eligible teachers, the impact on student achievement would be equivalent to reducing class size across-the-board by 5 students a class.

For additional evidence see R. Gordon, T. Kane, and D. Staiger, "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," The Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, The Brookings Institute, April 2006.