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 Rhode Island, an executive order from the Commissioner ensures that teacher performance and student need, rather than seniority, are factors in determining which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force. The policy requires that a collective bargaining agreement cannot prevent districts from "assigning staff based on a set of performance criteria and on student need rather than by strict seniority," which "may well have implications for personnel decisions [made] for layoff notices."
Commissioner Advisory/Notice to Superintendents, "Basic Education Program Regulations and Seniority-Based Teacher Assignments," October 20, 2009.
Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force and ensure that seniority is not the only factor used to determine which teachers are laid off.
While the intent of the executive order appears to be to make performance a factor in layoff decisions and to ensure that seniority is not the only factor, the state should clarify this language.
Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that Rhode Island's Basic Education Program also addresses the use of seniority.
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).