Tenure Reform: Fact or Fiction?
Little will change as a result of the tenure reform bill recently passed by both chambers of the legislature and awaiting Governor Christie's signature.
If you said FICTION in response to the above statement, you are correct.
What are the key components of the Bill?
he tenure reform bill, co-sponsored by Senator Teresa Ruiz, (D-Newark) and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, is focused on how an effective teacher receives tenure and how an ineffective teacher loses it. In general, the Bill makes it harder to get tenure and easier to lose. It also makes removing underperforming teachers faster and less expensive.
- Outlines a new system of yearly evaluations for teachers and principals that:
- Is based partly on growth in student test scores and in-classroom observations. (The bill does not specify how much of the ratings will be based on test scores, but stipulates that they should not be a "predominant" factor).
- Is more rigorous and uniform than the evaluations currently in use.
- Enables each teacher and principal to be rated ineffective, partially effective, effective, and highly effective.
- Ensures teachers with repeated poor reviews (ineffective or partially effective) will be required to initiate an improvement plan and if they do not demonstrate progress, face losing tenure or being fired.
- New teachers will complete a one-year mentoring program and are required to receive positive reviews for two of the next three years to earn tenure – waiting a minimum of four years.
- Teachers who already have tenure will keep it.
- Any teacher, regardless of seniority, can be fired after two years of negative evaluations.
- Disputes about firings will be handled through arbitration (rather than judges), which will drive down costs for school districts.
• End of "seniority rights" ("Last In- First Out or LIFO") – the longest-serving teachers are still protected from layoffs due to budget cuts or declining enrollment.
• "Mutual consent" hiring, which would allow principals to accept or reject teachers sent to their schools by the district.