Dismissal for Poor Performance: Oklahoma

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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.

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Dismissal for Poor Performance: Oklahoma results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/OK-Dismissal-for-Poor-Performance-10

Analysis of Oklahoma's policies

New legislation in Oklahoma ensures that teacher ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal. Teachers rated as "ineffective" for two consecutive years, "needs improvement" for three years or who do not average at least an "effective" rating over a five-year period on the Oklahoma Teachers and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation System "shall be dismissed or not reemployed."

Although the state does not 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. They include: "repeated negligence in performance of duty, willful neglect of duty, incompetency, instructional ineffectiveness or unsatisfactory teaching performance."

In Oklahoma, tenured teachers who are terminated have one opportunity to appeal. After receiving written notice of dismissal, the teacher may request a hearing, which must occur 20 to 60 days after notice. "The decision of the board regarding a teacher shall be final and nonrepealable."


Recommendations for Oklahoma

Distinguish the process and accompanying due process rights between dismissal for classroom ineffectiveness and dismissal for morality violations, felonies or dereliction of duty.
Oklahoma is commended for streamlining its dismissal process and for ensuring that ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal. In the future, the state could look to differentiate due process rights between loss of employment and issues with far-reaching consequences—such as felonies—that could permanently impact a teacher's right to practice. 

State response to our analysis

Oklahoma recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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.