Tenure for Newer Teachers

Probationary teachers up for tenure face some new conditions after the DOE issued a new Tenure Decision-making Framework to guide principals in making tenure decisions.

The framework affects only teachers who are on probation, not teachers who already have tenure. It has no bearing on the rating system that administrators use for their annual review of all teachers.

For more details, read the New York Teacher article, Tenure: What the DOE’s new framework means for you

Probationary period

After you are appointed to a position, state law requires you serve a three-year probationary period. During that time supervisors are supposed to observe you in your classroom several times a year and evaluate you in more than 20 categories including classroom management, lesson planning, presentation skills and how you will use the data from student test scores to help you as you plan instruction.

Generally, at the end of three years of acceptable service, you will be entitled to due process rights under Section 3020a of the state Education Law, which governs the discipline and dismissal of tenured teachers. This is commonly called acquiring tenure, but it is effectively the completion of your probationary period.

If the DOE intends to discontinue, that is, terminate, your service at any time prior to the completion of your probationary period you must be given 30 calendar days’ notice. If you are discontinued, call your UFT borough office. They will assign an advocate to assist you in fighting the termination.

Sometimes a principal will ask you to sign a document stating that you agree to an extension of your probationary period beyond the three years. If this occurs contact your chapter leader or your UFT borough office immediately so we can arrange, if necessary, for an attorney to review the document in order to protect your rights as a probationary teacher.

There are two ways to reduce your probationary period:

  • If you worked satisfactorily as a regular substitute in the same license and in the same school level you can reduce the normal three-year probationary period by up to two years. This is called Jarema Credit and you should apply if you think you are eligible. The application form is online.
  • Another way is called “traveling tenure.” If you received tenure in one license area and elect to take an appointment in a new license area or if you were tenured in another school district in New York State, you should apply to have your probationary period reduced to two years.

If you think you are eligible for either of these options, or have any questions, contact your UFT borough office.

Tenure

Under New York State law, appointed teachers achieve tenure after completing a probationary period (usually three years) and fulfilling all the requirements for the professional certificate. In New York City, tenure is granted in your license appointment area. Having tenure means you may not be disciplined or terminated without due process. As a tenured teacher, you have the right to a hearing before an independent arbitrator regarding any charges brought against you. This due process right protects you from being fired for personal, arbitrary or political reasons.

As described above, the process for determining whether or not you will get tenure is rigorous, and tenure is not automatic at the end of the probationary period.

You must:

• Complete all your state certification and city licensing requirements, file an application and receive professional certification.

• Have a record of acceptable service during your probationary period.

• Be recommended for tenure by your principal.

How can teachers prepare for their tenure decision? 

The UFT encourages teachers to be proactive in preparing for their tenure decision. Here are some steps you can take throughout your probationary period:

▪ If your principal has not initiated a meeting about your tenure decision, ask for an appointment to find out where things stand and what is expected of you. Do this even if your tenure decision is a year or two away so you have time on your side.

▪ Become familiar with the multiple sources of evidence for each factor that principals will use to prepare their tenure recommendations.

▪ Put together a professional portfolio of your effectiveness as a teacher. Organize your portfolio with a table of contents to separate the various components. Include a cross-section of your work but be selective in choosing the materials to include. Add a brief explanation or context for each piece of evidence you include and be sure to show how you differentiate to accommodate children with diverse abilities.

▪ Every spring the UFT offers workshops in our borough offices to help teachers prepare for tenure. Check the union newspaper, New York Teacher, and the UFT website for a schedule of tenure workshops.

Appointment

When a New York City school permanently hires you to fill a vacancy you are “appointed” to that position. Your appointment must match your state certification by both subject and level.

If your appointment or your teaching assignment does not match your state certification, speak to your chapter leader or call your UFT borough office immediately.

The State Education Department has very strict certification rules, and if they are not met you can be dismissed regardless of your classroom performance. You can be appointed under one license at a time, and your license area of appointment determines the area in which you will be granted tenure. Sometimes your certification permits you to be appointed under another license; however, if you agree to switch to a new appointment you are on probation again. In addition, if you switch to another license before you receive tenure in your first license you must serve probation in that license, and there may be other ramifications. Contact your UFT borough office before you switch your license. In any case, your salary does not change when your license changes. Be sure you check with your payroll secretary that your appointment date is correctly entered in the computer.

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