Dismissal for Poor Performance: Utah

Exiting Ineffective Teachers Policy

Goal

The state should articulate that ineffective classroom performance is grounds for dismissal and ensure that the process for terminating ineffective teachers is expedient and fair to all parties.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Dismissal for Poor Performance: Utah results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/UT-Dismissal-for-Poor-Performance-10

Analysis of Utah's policies

Utah does not address the appeal process for teachers who are terminated for poor performance; local boards set the policy for dismissal.

Recommendations for Utah

Specify that classroom ineffectiveness is grounds for dismissal.
Utah should articulate policy that explicitly makes teacher ineffectiveness grounds for dismissal so that districts do not feel they lack the legal basis for terminating consistently poor performers.

Ensure that teachers terminated for poor performance have the opportunity to appeal within a reasonable time frame.
Nonprobationary teachers who are dismissed for any grounds, including ineffectiveness, are entitled to due process. However, cases that drag on for years drain resources from school districts and create a disincentive for districts to attempt to terminate poor performers. Therefore, Utah should articulate policy that provides tenured teachers the opportunity to appeal district decisions to terminate their contracts. Such an appeal should only be allowed to take place once and only at the district level. It is in the best interest of both the teacher and the district that a conclusion be reached within a reasonable time frame. 

State response to our analysis

Utah recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

One of the greatest shortcomings of teacher performance appraisals has been school systems' unwillingness and inability to differentiate instructional competency. The New Teacher Project, 2009, "The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness" at http://widgeteffect.org/

See NCTQ, State of the States: Trends and Early Lessons on Teacher Evaluation and Effectiveness Policies (2011) as well as studies by The New Teacher Project of human resource and dismissal policies in various districts at: http://www.tntp.org/.

For information on the high cost of teacher dismissals, see Steve Brill, "The Rubber Room," New Yorker, August 31, 2009 at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/31/090831fa_fact_brill.
 
Also, see Scott Reeder, "The Hidden Costs of Tenure: Why are Failing Teachers Getting a Passing Grade?" Small Newspaper Group, 2005 at:http://www.nctq.org/nctq/research/1135269736359.pdf.