Tenure: Tennessee

2017 General Teacher Prep Programs Policy

Goal

The state should require that tenure decisions are based on evidence of teacher effectiveness. This goal was reorganized in 2017.

Nearly meets

Analysis of Tennessee's policies

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.

Citation

Recommendations for Tennessee

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.

State response to our analysis

Tennessee recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state questioned why it did not fully meet this goal. 

Last word

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. 

How we graded

9B: Tenure

  • Evidence of Effectiveness: The state should require:
    • That tenure decisions be based on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of classroom effectiveness.
    • That evidence of effectiveness be the determinative factor in tenure decisions.
Evidence of Effectiveness
The total goal score is earned based on the following: 

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if the evaluation system requires that teachers cannot be rated as overall effective if they receive an ineffective student growth rating.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if its evaluation system requires between 33 and 50 percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating to be based on student growth.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it bases tenure requirements on a process that evaluates cumulative evidence of effectiveness, and if the evaluation system requires less than 33 percent of a teacher's effectiveness rating to be based on student growth.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if an evaluation process exists for granting teachers tenure, but the process does not require evidence of student growth.

Research rationale

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

States should also ensure that evidence of effectiveness is the preponderant (but not the only) criterion for making tenure decisions.[4] 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.


[1] For evidence on the potential benefits of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure see: Loeb, S., Miller, L. C., & Wyckoff, J. (2015). Performance screens for school improvement: The case of teacher tenure reform in New York City. Educational Researcher, 44(4), 199-212. Retrieved from http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Performance%20Screens.pdf
[2] Gordon, R. J., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/identifying-effective-teachers-using-performance-on-the-job/; Goldhaber and Hansen conclude that if districts ensured that the bottom performing 25 percent of all teachers up for tenure each year did not earn it, approximately 13 percent more than current levels, student achievement could be significantly improved. By routinely denying tenure to the bottom 25 percent of eligible teachers, the impact on student achievement would be equivalent to reducing class size across-the-board by 5 students a class. See: Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2010). Assessing the potential of using value-added estimates of teacher job performance for making tenure decisions (Working Paper 31). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001369_assessing_the_potential.pdf
[3] For evidence on the potential of eliminating automatic tenure, articulating a process for granting tenure, and using evidence of effectiveness as criteria for tenure, see: Goldhaber, D., & Hansen, M. (2010). Assessing the potential of using value-added estimates of teacher job performance for making tenure decisions (Working Paper 31). National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001369_assessing_the_potential.pdf
[4] For additional evidence, see: Gordon, R. J., Kane, T. J., & Staiger, D. (2006). Identifying effective teachers using performance on the job. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/identifying-effective-teachers-using-performance-on-the-job/