The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness.
South Carolina does not connect tenure decisions to evidence of teacher effectiveness.
Teachers in South Carolina must serve at least one induction year and at least one annual contract year before earning continuing contract status. During the annual contract year, teachers must have "successfully completed" the formal, summative evaluation to determine whether they will advance to continuing contract status.
Because South Carolina's teacher evaluation ratings are not centered primarily on evidence of student learning (see "Evaluation of Effectiveness" analysis and recommendations), basing tenure decisions on these evaluation ratings ensures that classroom effectiveness is considered, but it does not ensure that it is the preponderant criterion.
Expanded ADEPT Guidelines, approved March 11, 2015 https://ed.sc.gov/agency/ee/Educator-Evaluation-Effectiveness/documents/EP-01-ADEPTGuideline-Attach-03-15.pdf ADEPT Statute 59-26-40
Ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant criterion in tenure decisions.
South Carolina should make evidence of effectiveness the most significant factor when determining this leap in professional standing.
Articulate a process that local districts must administer when deciding which teachers get tenure.
South Carolina should 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.
Require a longer probationary period.
South Carolina should extend its probationary period, ideally to five years. This would allow sufficient time to collect data that adequately reflect teacher performance.
South Carolina asserted that induction teachers are afforded up to three years in the induction category at the district’s discretion. While not mandated at the state level, districts do have that option. Beginning SY 2015-2016, a teacher’s effectiveness will be determined based on an overall professional practice rating and a student growth rating. Those combined measures produce an overall effectiveness rating whereby districts use a decision matrix to determine met/not met status, which informs both hiring and licensure decisions.
Tenure should be a
significant and consequential milestone in a teacher's career.
The decision to give teachers tenure (or permanent status) is usually made automatically, with little thought, deliberation or consideration of actual performance. State policy should reflect the fact that initial certification is temporary and probationary, and that tenure is intended to be a significant reward for teachers who have consistently shown effectiveness and commitment. Tenure and advanced certification are not rights implied by the conferring of an initial teaching certificate. No other profession, including higher education, offers practitioners tenure after only a few years of working in the field.
States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions. Most states confer tenure at a point that is too early for the collection of sufficient and adequate data that reflect teacher performance. Ideally, states would accumulate such data for four to five years. This robust data set would prevent effective teachers from being unfairly denied tenure based on too little data and ineffective teachers from being granted tenure.
Tenure: Supporting Research
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, "Assessing the Potential of Using Value-Added Estimates of Teacher Job Performance for Making Tenure Decisions." Calder Institute, February 2010, Working Paper 31. 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 R. Gordon, T. Kane, and D. Staiger, "Identifying Effective Teachers Using Performance on the Job," The Hamilton Project Discussion Paper, The Brookings Institute, April 2006.