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TNTP Re-imagine Teaching

Rebalancing Teacher Tenure

A Post-Vergara Guide for Policymakers

September 9, 2014

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.