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Groups such as The New Teacher Project and the National Council on Teacher Quality have both pointed to the need to redo teacher personnel policies, to reward teachers who work in more challenging classrooms and weed out the few bad apples.
According to Education Week (sub. required), states are now following through on those suggestions, with revisions to laws ”being coupled with movements to tie tenure to student academic achievement, reflecting an increased emphasis in national policy circles on the importance of gauging teachers’ impact on student learning.”
Delaware has introduced measures of student performance into the tenure-granting process. Maryland is discussing changing the probationary period from two years to three. Ohio has stretched out the probationary period to seven years, and Florida may abolish tenure altogether. In Florida, under a Senate bill, “All teachers would be placed on annual contracts. Those reaching their fifth year in the district would also lose employment unless they earned several successive ratings in the top-two performance tiers on a new evaluation instrument.
One expert interviewed by the newspaper pointed to the need of having solid evaluation tools: “Changing the amount of time to [gain] tenure is not going to be helpful if you don’t have a good evaluation system.” To paraphrase another person interviewed in the story, right now, the evaluation “system” is “did you get fired yet?”