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New York

Tenure crunch continues, but just 41 teachers denied on first try

Percentage of New York City teachers who had tenure denied or extended, 2006-2013 For the third year in a row, nearly half of teachers up for tenure last year did not receive it. But the number of teachers outright denied the job protection remained small. Just under 4,000 teachers were up for tenure in the 2012-2013 school year, with 2,551 of them facing the decision for the first time — fewer than usual because hiring restrictions had been in place three years earlier. Of the total, 53 percent received tenure and 3 percent were denied it, effectively barring them from working in city schools. The remaining portion — 44 percent — had their probationary periods extended for another year. Only 41 of the 2,551 teachers up for tenure for the first time this year were told they could not continue to work in city schools, according to city data. That means the denial rate for teachers in the tenure pool was about 1.6 percent, lower than in each of the past two years. The extension rate for teachers up for tenure for the first time was 44 percent, up slightly since last year. The high extension rate is a hallmark of the Bloomberg administration's efforts to make tenure tougher to achieve. Bloomberg vowed in 2010 to move toward "ending tenure as we know it," a change he favored because teachers who do not yet have tenure can more easily be fired. The previous year, 11 percent of teachers up for tenure had been denied or extended. At the start of the mayor's tenure, that figure had been about 1 percent.
New York

Tenure rate holds steady, but just 42 teachers denied on first try

Percentage of teachers who had tenure denied or extended, 2006-2012 The city's two-year-old crackdown on "tenure as we know it" continued this past year with nearly half of the teachers up for tenure not receiving it. Just under 4,000 teachers were up for tenure in the 2011-2012 school year, fewer than usual because hiring restrictions sharply cut the number of new teachers in 2009. Of them, 55 percent received tenure and 3 percent were denied it, effectively barring them from working in city schools. The remaining portion — 42 percent — had their probationary periods extended for another year. The extension rate was slightly higher than in 2011, when 39 percent of teachers up for tenure had their decisions deferred under a revamped tenure evaluation process. But it is five times the extension rate from 2010, which was the first time that the city used the deferral option in large numbers. Mayor Bloomberg vowed in 2010 to move toward on "ending tenure as we know it," a change he favors because teachers who do not yet have tenure can more easily be fired. Last year, Chancellor Dennis Walcott predicted that more teachers would be denied tenure this year. UPDATE: But  the denial rate for teachers in the tenure pool for the first time actually fell. Last year, 104 teachers eligible for tenure for the first time were denied it, for a denial rate of 2.2 percent. This year, that rate was 1.9 percent, meaning that just 42 teachers up for tenure for the first time were told they could not continue to work in city schools. The Department of Education's chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, said today that the department had no firm goals for how many teachers should receive or be denied tenure. "This is not about hitting some numerical target at all," he said during a call with reporters. "What we’re asking principals to do is treat this as a big decision about: Is this teacher ready for lifetime guarantee of employment?"
New York

Instead of giving or denying tenure, city is deferring decisions

Under pressure from the Bloomberg administration to make tenure tougher to receive, principals and superintendents are withholding job protections from some young teachers. Instead of simply granting or denying tenure at the end of a teacher's third year, they are extending the probationary period for some teachers by another year. In 2006, just 30 teachers had their probation extended. As the city has moved to toughen all teacher evaluations, that number has risen steadily, to 465 last year. Reports from teachers and principals suggest the trend is likely to continue when official numbers about the past year’s tenure decisions is released in the near future. The reports suggest that many superintendents, who make final tenure decisions based on principals’ recommendations, are responding to a directive that teachers who score low on a new rubric not get tenure. The city urged that teachers who scored in the "ineffective" range be denied tenure and teachers who fell in the "developing" range have their probations extended. A low score on the city's Teacher Data Report was particularly influential, even if other information, such as classroom observations, contradicted it, principals said. The reports, which only some teachers receive, use value-added formulas to estimate teachers' effectiveness at increasing students' test scores, and teachers with low scores are "red-flagged" in the city's tenure system. Of the nine teachers Principal Joe Lisa had up for tenure this year at IS 61 in Queens, six taught in subjects without data reports and received tenure. Three math teachers had their probationary periods extended. One in particular seemed to be a shoo-in, Lisa said. But his superintendent rejected the idea of giving her tenure this year.
New York

Bloomberg vows last-in first-out crackdown, new tenure policy

Mayor Bloomberg on NBC today, announcing a crackdown on seniority-based layoffs and a new tenure policy. In his first major education policy announcement for the new school year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning vowed a renewed attack on seniority laws that protect veteran teachers and a change in how teachers are awarded tenure. He made the remarks on NBC, which is dedicating this week to school reporting in a project called "Education Nation." The attack on seniority laws came as city officials made a dire budget prediction for next year, saying that they will likely have to lay off public school teachers as federal stimulus funding runs out. Under the current state law, teachers with the least seniority would be the first to lose their jobs — a policy known as "last in, first out." The mayor and Chancellor Joel Klein oppose this policy, but their effort to change the law, which the teachers union does support, went nowhere last year. Today, the mayor said he would try dismantling the policy again before the city confronts an expected $700 million budget hole and possible layoffs next year. "It's time for us to end the 'last-in, first out' layoff policy that puts children at risk here in New York — and across our wonderful country," Bloomberg said on NBC. "How could anyone argue that this is good for children? The law is nothing more than special interest politics, and we're going to get rid of it before it hurts our kids," he added. Teachers union officials immediately squashed any possibility that they might partner with the mayor.
New York

City principals say they can address bad teachers already

City principals say they're pretty darn happy with their jobs, according to the results of the city's annual survey for principals. They gave high marks in virtually every area, including the one the city might have wanted them to endorse less enthusiastically — their ability to root out and deal with poor teachers. The city's current teacher tenure policy is a pet peeve of Chancellor Joel Klein, who argues that student performance, not just years in the classroom, should determine whether a teacher gets and maintains tenure. And Deputy Chancellor Eric Nadelstern has said that two-thirds of the city's teachers may need improvement. But principals said they already have the tools they need to help struggling teachers. A total of 85 percent said that they were given good enough "support and information to address low-performing employees." And 93 percent of principals who responded to the survey reported that they either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I am given sufficient support and information to guide tenure decisions." Neither of those rates have changed since March 2008. Regardless of principals' views, the teacher evaluation and tenure system is set to change. Under a deal struck between the state and teachers unions this spring, student test scores will begin to factor in teacher evaluations beginning in the 2011-12 school year. Around 84 percent of the city's 1,532 principals responded to the survey, which the city has given each fall and spring since November 2007. The city's full report on the survey results is below:
New York

City releases new teacher reports it says are simpler, fairer

New York

‘Widget Effect’ report: ‘Meaningless’ teacher evaluations need improvement

A new report is urging school districts across the country to beef up their methods of evaluating teachers, which the report describes as so slipshod as to be "largely meaningless." The report, by a nonprofit group that has clashed with teachers unions in the past, describes the poor evaluations as "just one symptom of a larger, more fundamental crisis—the inability of our schools to assess instructional performance accurately or to act on this information in meaningful ways." The report is called "The Widget Effect" because accuses districts of treating all teachers alike, regardless of how much they help students learn. It goes on: This inability not only keeps schools from dismissing consistently poor performers, but also prevents them from recognizing excellence among top-performers or supporting growth among the broad plurality of hardworking teachers who operate in the middle of the performance spectrum. Instead, school districts default to treating all teachers as essentially the same, both in terms of effectiveness and need for development. The report, conducted by The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit founded by the lightning-rod D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, calls on districts to develop more robust teacher evaluation systems that reward successful teachers and easily identify less successful teachers. The report comes amid a growing push to improve teaching quality across the country. President Obama has said that teachers who are not helping students learn should be removed from classrooms, and even the national American Federation of Teachers union is working internally to build a new method of evaluating teacher quality. The report bases its findings on surveys of thousands of teachers and administrators across four states and 12 school districts, plus a scouring of the districts' evaluation records. New York City was not one of the districts studied.
New York

Union: KIPP charter leaders are waging an intimidation campaign

The city teachers union is accusing the elite KIPP charter school network of waging an intimidation campaign against teachers who are trying to unionize. The dispute began in January, when teachers at a Brooklyn KIPP school shocked the charter school world by petitioning to join the powerful United Federation of Teachers. At the time, Dave Levin, KIPP’s cofounder and the superintendent of its New York City schools, indicated that he was open to working with the union — even though many KIPP supporters oppose working with unions, which they argue block schools’ ability to teach at-risk urban students by imposing strict work rules on schools. (KIPP stands for the Knowledge is Power Program.) Now, the union is accusing Levin of urging teachers not to unionize and painting a bleak picture of what will happen if they do. The accusations are cataloged in two complaints the UFT sent to the state labor board in the last nine days arguing that KIPP is improperly blocking teachers’ ability to unionize. The latest complaint, filed Wednesday, adds to complaints first aired in a Sunday New York Times story reporting that KIPP is resisting the teachers' organizing drive. The complaints accuse a KIPP human resources official of telling teachers that he is concerned that the Brooklyn school will lose its affiliation with the KIPP network if they organize; they accuse the school's founding principal, Ky Adderley, of sitting in the hallway every day to monitor teachers, and they accuse Levin of making a rare attendance at a staff meeting to encourage teachers to reverse their decision to unionize. Levin and a KIPP spokesman did not return telephone messages requesting comment today.
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