Reimagining Tenure: Protecting Our Students and Our Profession

As California school districts, education leaders and court systems debate the future of teacher tenure, Educators 4 Excellence-Los Angeles (E4E) members issued a series of recommendations to preserve the job protections but make tenure designations far more meaningful. A team of nine Los Angeles teachers spent four months researching tenure regulations, surveying the perspectives and experiences of teachers, parents, students, and administrators, and writing their recommendations.

Overwhelmingly, teachers view tenure as a benefit important to attracting and retaining talent but agree that current tenure systems do little to encourage excellence or elevate their profession. Tenure, known as “permanent status” in California, puts incredible pressure on school sites to make high-stakes decisions about teachers' careers after just two years in the classroom. In California, teachers receive “permanent status” on the first day of their third year in the classroom.

As a result, permanent status designations put incredible pressure on school sites to make high-stakes decisions about teachers' careers after just two years. Administrators who do not believe a teacher is ready for permanent status within this timeframe are left with no other option than to dismiss the teacher. In reality, the timeline is even more constrained, as administrators must file paperwork after just 18 months in order to meet state deadlines.

In light of this challenging dynamic, team members recommend a longer timeline for determining tenure and a process that accounts for classroom effectiveness, encourages professional development and leads to leadership opportunities.

Specifically, the team proposes:

  • Requiring teachers to obtain a clear credential and earn at least two consecutive “effective” (or higher) evaluations within five years to earn tenure.
  • Allowing up to two one-year extensions on tenure designations for extenuating circumstances (e.g. extreme illness, administrator turnover or maternity leave).
  • Incorporating multi-measure evaluations, including input from multiple perspectives, and a portfolio demonstrating professional growth in deciding tenure designations. 
  • Instituting a regular renewal process.
  • Connecting tenure to new avenues for professional development and career growth. 

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Reimagining Tenure: Protecting Our Students and Our Profession

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