The Case Against Quality-Blind Teacher Layoffs

Why Layoff Policies That Ignore Teacher Quality Need

Harmful layoff policies have real consequences for both students and teachers.

As school districts across the country grapple with massive budget cuts, thousands of great teachers could lose their jobs simply because they have not taught as long as others. That’s because 40 percent of the nation’s teachers (1.25 million) work in one of 14 states where it’s currently illegal for schools to consider job performance in making layoff decisions.

The Case Against Quality-Blind Teacher Layoffs summarizes recent research on the effects of quality-blind policies and explains why staffing decisions should be based on what teachers achieve with their students, not when they started teaching.

The consequences of these policies—sometimes called “last-in, first-out”—are severe, including lower student achievement as a result of more effective teachers leaving and low-performing ones staying. And seniority-based layoffs disproportionately hurt schools serving poor students because these schools tend to have the highest rates of teacher turnover and the largest concentrations of novice teachers.

To reverse the damage of quality-blind layoffs, we urge policymakers to introduce legislation and school districts to set policies that ensure that teacher performance carries the greatest weight in staffing decisions.

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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