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 Oregon, the factors used to determine which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force consider a teacher's seniority and licensure status. In addition to considering licensure and seniority, a district can "determine competence and merit of teachers." Districts are permitted—but not required—to retain a teacher with less seniority than another if the less senior teacher is deemed to have "more competence or merit." Further, school districts cannot waive the right to consider "competence" in making layoff decisions during a reduction in force.
Oregon Revised Statute 342.934
Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Oregon 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 seniority is not the only factor used to determine which teachers are laid off.
Unlike other states, Oregon does not require that seniority be the sole factor in deciding who is laid off during a reduction in force. However, the policy currently in place is problematic in that it does not require that competence and merit are considered. The state should ensure that what matters most—a teacher's effectiveness—is given due weight in determining which teachers are laid off.
Oregon 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).