Reductions in Force: South Carolina

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy


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.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Reductions in Force: South Carolina results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of South Carolina's policies

South Carolina does not have policy that addresses the factors used by districts to determine which teachers are laid off during a reduction in force.

Recommendations for South Carolina

Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
South Carolina 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 some states, South Carolina does not require that districts consider seniority; however, the state should do more to prevent districts from making decisions solely on this basis.

State response to our analysis

South Carolina asserted that it is important that local districts have autonomy for employment decisions. However, during the recent teacher downsizing, the Department of Education advocated for and assisted many districts in implementing a reduction in force strategy that focused on educator quality and effectiveness.  

Last word

It is commendable that South Carolina has encouraged districts toward layoff policies that emphasize teacher effectiveness. The state should consider adopting formal policies in support of this approach. With guidelines established, South Carolina can ensure that districts meet these minimum expectations while still allowing them the autonomy to determine specific protocol for reductions in force at the local level. 

Research rationale

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).