The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal remains unchanged in 2021.
Link to evidence of effectiveness: Washington requires that if a provisional teacher receives an unsatisfactory evaluation rating during his or her third year of employment, the teacher remains a provisional teacher until he or she receives at least a basic or higher evaluation rating. At a district's discretion, a teacher may be granted tenure after the second year if he or she receives one of the top two evaluation ratings. Continuing contract teachers with five or more years of experience who receive a performance rating below level 2 for two consecutive years are given notification of discharge.
Basis for tenure: Washington's teacher evaluation ratings include objective measures of student growth; therefore, classroom effectiveness is considered when making tenure decisions.
Due to Washington's strong policies in this area, no recommendations are provided.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.
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.