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. The bar for this goal was raised in 2017.
Factors to Consider: Texas considers teacher effectiveness—as measured by "teacher appraisals"—as the primary criterion for districts to use in determining which continuing contract teachers are laid off during reductions in force. "Other criteria as determined by the board" are also considered.
Texas Education Code Sec. 21.157
Require that districts consider teacher effectiveness — and not just seniority — for all teachers in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Texas's policy considers performance for teachers on continuing contracts, but this does not apply to teachers on term or probationary contracts. The state should consider expanding this policy to apply to all teachers in the state.
Texas recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
"Last In, First Out (LIFO)" policies put adult interests before student needs, yet most districts across the country still use these policies in the event of teacher layoffs. While most states leave these decisions to district discretion, other states require layoffs to be based on seniority. Such policies fail to give due weight to a teacher's classroom performance and risk sacrificing effective teachers while maintaining low performers.
Policies that prioritize seniority in layoff decisions can also cause significant upheaval in schools and school districts. As teachers who are newer to the classroom traditionally draw lower salaries, a seniority-based layoff policy is likely to require that districts lay off a larger number of probationary teachers rather than a smaller group of ineffective teachers to achieve the same budget reduction.
States can leave districts flexibility in determining layoff policies, but they should do so while also ensuring that classroom performance is considered. Further, if performance is prioritized, states need not prohibit the use of seniority as an additional criterion in determining who is laid off.