Tenure : Rhode Island

Identifying Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Nearly meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Tenure : Rhode Island results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/RI-Tenure--8

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

Commendably, Rhode Island has discontinued its policy of automatic tenure. The state now bases the leap in professional standing from probationary to nonprobationary status on evidence of classroom effectiveness.
 
Teachers who receive two years of ineffective evaluations will be dismissed. Any teacher with five years of ineffective ratings would not be eligible to have his or her certification renewed by the state.

Because Rhode Island's teacher evaluation ratings are centered primarily on evidence of student learning (see Goal 3-B), basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness is appropriately considered. 

Citation

Recommendations for Rhode Island

Articulate a process that local districts must administer when deciding which teachers get tenure.
Although Rhode Island has taken important steps to ensure that ineffective teachers are not awarded tenure, the state should still 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. Without such a process, there is no assurance that teachers with a single "ineffective" rating or multiple "needs improvement" ratings are not awarded tenure automatically.  

State response to our analysis

Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

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, "Assuming the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Center for Reinventing Public Education. (2009).  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 Robert Gordon, et al., "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, Brookings Institute, March 2006.