Rebalancing Teacher Tenure

A Post-Vergara Guide for Policymakers

Fixing teacher tenure doesn’t mean ending it.

Many people view changes to teacher tenure as a choice between two extremes: keep existing laws exactly as they are or get rid of tenure entirely. We think that’s a false choice.

In Rebalancing Teacher Tenure, we offer eight common-sense changes to existing laws and regulations that will achieve a more balanced tenure system without stripping teachers of due process.

Key recommendations:

  • Lengthen the tryout period and tie tenure to performance. Teachers should become eligible for tenure after five years and they should receive it on the basis of their success in the classroom.
  • Hearings should be more efficient and focused on students’ interests. The entire dismissal appeals process should take no more than 90 days, with hearings lasting just one day.
  • Lower the professional stakes for teachers—but stop tolerating any instances of egregious misconduct. Formal dismissal from one school shouldn’t cost a teacher his or her license. But the system should have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct and abuse.

Fixing teacher tenure isn’t a silver bullet for the complex challenge of increasing students’ access to consistently effective teachers—but it is an important step toward putting the focus back where it should be: helping hard-working teachers improve and keeping high-performers in the classroom.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

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