Research shows

Tenure loss increases teacher churn

New research shows a connection between the loss of teacher tenure and a higher rate of teacher turnover.

Researchers at the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans found that Louisiana’s decision to essentially revoke teacher tenure in 2012 resulted in the loss of 1,500 to 1,700 public school teachers — many with 25 or more years of experience — in the first two years.

After the removal of tenure, the overall teacher exit rate for all traditional public school teachers increased by 1.5 percentage points per year in the state. The impact was greatest among teachers who already held tenure, presumably because their loss of job security was most acute.

Beginning in the 2012–13 school year, a teacher rated “ineffective” once on an annual teacher evaluation lost tenured status, while untenured teachers now had to receive a “highly effective” rating for five of six consecutive years in order to attain tenure.

To judge the impact on teacher exit rates, researchers Katherine O. Strunk from the University of Southern California, Nathan Barrett of Tulane University and Jane Arnold Lincove of the University of Maryland compared the annual rate at which the state’s teachers left teaching during the five-year period before and the two-year period after the change in the regulations.

The researchers found that the increase in teacher departures was highest in schools with the lowest student test scores and in schools rated F on the state’s A-to-F rating scale. F-rated schools saw their teacher exit rate increase from 7.4 percent to 9.4 percent, while A-rated schools experienced no change. “Our findings offer evidence that teachers valued the job security that tenure provides, and, therefore, perceived the removal of tenure employment protections as a decrease in the overall value of their jobs,” Barrett said.

The study’s authors suggest school districts may need to provide higher salaries or improved working conditions to make up for diminished job security when tenure is revoked in areas where there is a shortage of qualified teachers.

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