Center for American Progress

NEW REPORT: Massive Barriers Exist to the Dismissal of Chronically Ineffective Teachers.
Press Release

NEW REPORT: Massive Barriers Exist to the Dismissal of Chronically Ineffective Teachers.

Three new reports examine teacher evaluation and dismissal and find that states and districts have a long way to go to ensure that all students have access to effective teachers.

Washington, D.C. – In schools across the country, there are teachers who should not be teaching. But schools almost never dismiss persistently poor-performing teachers due in large part to legal and policy barriers at the local and state level. This finding comes from a new report from the Center for American Progress titled "Removing Chronically Ineffective Teachers: Barriers and Opportunities" by Robin Chait.

The report is one of the first in-depth analyses of the key barriers to teacher dismissal and details some of the major challenges to removing chronically ineffective teachers from the classroom, including weak evaluation systems, the time and cost of dismissal cases, and a school culture that is uncomfortable with differentiating among teachers. And while most teachers are committed to their students and their profession and are trying hard to meet their students’ needs every day, there are some who consistently fail to improve student achievement, despite being given assistance.

The report includes a set of recommendations for districts, states, and the federal government about ways to reduce the barriers to the dismissal of chronically ineffective teachers. The recommendations include requiring rigorous evaluation systems, making sure that tenure decisions are based upon meaningful evidence of performance, and that states ensure that poor performance is a cause for dismissal in their tenure statutes. Read full report here.

Central to creating a fair and meaningful process of dismissing an ineffective teacher is a robust teacher evaluation system, and the Center for American Progress is releasing two other reports today on teacher evaluation practices. One discusses teacher evaluation practices in charter school management organizations. The other examines the ways in which information about teacher performance can be used to make important decisions about teachers’ careers. (See "Supporting Effective Teaching Through Teacher Evaluation: A Study of Teacher Evaluation in Five Charter Schools" by Morgaen Donaldson and Heather Peske and "Treating Different Teachers Differently: How State Policy Should Act on Differences in Teacher Performance to Improve Teacher Effectiveness and Equity" by Robin Chait and Raegen Miller).

“In many states and districts, the obstacles to dismissing chronically ineffective teachers are formidable,” says Robin Chait, Associate Director for Teacher Quality at the Center for American Progress. “To ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education, states and districts must institute far better teacher evaluation systems that provide meaningful information about teacher performance and effective support for teachers who are struggling, as well as a streamlined system for dismissing chronically ineffective teachers.”