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.
RCW 28A.405.100 8(a)
Require that districts consider classroom performance as a factor in determining which teachers are laid off during reductions in force.
Washington can still leave districts flexibility in determining the factors used to guide layoffs, while making sure that teacher performance is weighted more heavily than seniority.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) must develop a report to the legislature and the governor, due by December 1, 2013, of best practices and recommendations regarding how teacher and principal evaluations and other appropriate elements shall inform school district human resource and personnel practices. The state further noted that the OSPI is convening educator forums in the fall of 2013 to inform this report, and the legislature will consider possible policy changes during its 2014 session.
LIFO policies put adult interests before student needs.
Across the country, most districts utilize "last in, first out" policies in the event of teacher layoffs. Most states leave these decisions to district discretion; some 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.
Reductions in Force: Supporting Research
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); D. Boyd, H. Lankford, S. Loeb, and J. Wyckoff, "Teacher Layoffs: An Empirical Illustration of Seniority v. Measures of Effectiveness", Calder Institute, July 2010, Brief 12; D. Goldhaber and R. Theobald, "Assessing the Determinants and Implications of Teacher Layoffs." Calder Institute, Working Paper 55, December 2010; C. Sepe and M. Roza, "The Disproportionate Impact of Seniority-Based Layoffs on Poor, Minority Students." Center on Reinventing Public Education, May 2010.