Panel: New Evidence on Teacher Tenure Reform

Friday, November 3, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Gold Coast (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development
Panel Chairs:  Matthew Springer, Vanderbilt University
Discussants:  Katharine O. Strunk, University of Southern California and Luke Miller, University of Virginia

Principals Strategies to Improve Teaching: The Case of Tenure Reform?
Julia J. Cohen1, Susanna Loeb2, Luke C. Miller1, Anisah Waite1 and James H Wyckoff1, (1)University of Virginia, (2)Stanford University

Who Stays, Who Leaves? Teacher Transfer and Attrition in the Tenure Reform Era in Tennessee
Luis Alberto Rodriguez and Matthew Springer, Vanderbilt University

Does Tenure Reform Induce Effective Teachers to Leave Teaching: Evidence from Supply-Side Responses in Louisiana
Nathan Barrett, Tulane University, Katharine O. Strunk, University of Southern California and Jane Lincove, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Debates over the efficacy of teacher tenure are long-standing. Much of the rhetoric in debates about traditional lifetime tenure status has centered on barriers to dismissal of ineffective teachers, substantial legal costs associated with due process, and the weakening of performance mechanisms designed to improve teacher effort. In contrast, many have regarded traditional tenure policies as a form of job security capable of attracting and retaining high performing teachers.

A number of states have changed tenure rules in recent years by enacting reforms that vary in degree from the seniority-based status quo. Some states have simply extended the number of years teachers are required to teach in order to attain tenure while others have repealed tenure and due process provisions outright. Still other states have enacted reforms that require teachers’ performance ratings be a primary consideration during the tenure eligibility process and even revert teachers to probationary status if their performance is rated unsatisfactory.

The recent policy emphasis on tenure appears to be a natural extension of the large body of research highlighting teacher quality as a prominent school-based determinant of educational outcomes. However, the evidence of the effects of recent tenure reforms is limited but at last emerging. The papers in the session exploit extensive survey and administrative data across four states to illuminate the effects of reformed tenure policies on the teacher labor force, with particular emphasis on principal responses to tenure reform as well as changes to teacher quality and transfer and exit patterns.

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