Changing State Tenure Statutes to Incorporate Teacher Effectiveness Data

Every state except Wisconsin currently mandates that school districts grant tenure to teachers, yet only two states—Iowa and New Mexico—require districts to consider any evidence of teacher effectiveness as part of the tenure decision. This situation is simply untenable. States may reasonably differ in how they define and measure teaching effectiveness; in particular, they may place different emphasis on the importance of student scores on standardized achievement tests.

But states that refuse to include any measure of teacher effectiveness in their tenure process—or block districts from doing so—should be ineligible for discretionary federal education funding. The Obama administration has indicated that it intends to use the Race to the Top Fund and existing ESEA programs in this manner. The National Council of State Legislature’s Michelle Exstrom remarked that, “States have heard very directly from President [Barack] Obama and Secretary [Arne] Duncan that they would like to see tenure reform.”

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