Retaining Effective Teachers Policy
The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was reorganized in 2017.
Link to Evidence of Effectiveness: Tennessee requires probationary teachers to receive an overall performance effectiveness rating of above expectations or significantly above expectations during the last two years of the probationary period. A tenured teacher who receives two consecutive overall ratings of below expectations or significantly below expectations may be reverted to probationary status until he or she receives two consecutive ratings of above expectations or significantly above expectations.
Basis for Tenure: Tennessee's teacher evaluation ratings include objective measures of student growth; therefore, classroom effectiveness is considered when making tenure decisions.
Tennessee Code Annotated 49-5-501
Ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the determinative factor in tenure decisions.
Although Tennessee's teacher evaluation ratings include evidence of student growth, the state does not make it a determinative factor in its teacher evaluations. The state should strengthen its policy and make evidence of effectiveness the most significant factor when determining this leap in professional standing.
Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state questioned why it did not fully meet this goal.
To meet this goal, a state's teacher evaluation system must require that objective measures of student growth play a determinative role in the overall rating.
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.