Teachers with Seniority Keep Their Jobs, More Effective Teachers Get Booted. Again.


Breaking news: If you base teacher layoffs on seniority rather effectiveness, you wind up firing some really good teachers and keeping some teachers who are pretty meh.

OK, that's not breaking news. But a new study by Dan Goldhaber and Roddy Theobald from the University of Washington does the important and depressing work of quantifying just how many effective teachers (as measured by value-added scores) are getting the boot—and how many senior teachers are handing around until their pensions kick in—thanks to powerful teachers unions and the "last in, first out" policies they favor.

The overlap between the subgroup of teach­ers who received a layoff notice and the sub­group of teachers who received one in our simu­lation is relatively small—only 23 teachers (or 16 percent of the teachers for whom we could estimate value-added who received a layoff notice)….

As expected, there are large differences in classroom effec­tiveness between teachers who actually received layoff notices and those who would have received them in our effectiveness-based simulation. The two groups differ by about 20 percent of a standard deviation in students' math and reading achieve­ment. The magnitude of the difference is strik­ing, roughly equivalent to having a teacher who is at the 16th percentile of effectiveness rather than at the 50th percentile. This difference corresponds to roughly 2.5 to 3.5 months of student learning.

There's also the question of sheer quantity of teachers. If you lay off newer teachers with smaller salaries, you have to lay off more of them to reach your budget goals:

The authors find that if the RIF-notified teachers made the average salary in their district, it would only be necessary to lay off 1,349 teachers [instead of 1,717 teachers] in order to attain the same budgetary savings, or roughly 20 percent less than the actual number of teachers who received layoff notices.

Via Education Next.

NEXT: USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council Loves Obama

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. We’re going to have this meritless-based system until we stop letting the government subjugate educate our children.

  2. This is worth bringing up again, and worthy of its own thread:…..lame-game/

    The country has been shocked by news that the award winning Atlantic Public School system achieved their students’ high test scores via nearly a decade of systemic cheating on the part of teachers and administrators.

    While Atlanta is shaping up to be one of the largest instances of institutionalized cheating the country has seen, the phenomena is not unusual.

    In the past few years officials and whistle-blowers have revealed numerous instances, in a variety of states, where teachers have altered answers, failed to adhere to test requirements, and/or silenced dissenters in states such as Maryland, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, and DC.

    Disgusting, even more so from those who still defend this.

    1. Atlantic Public School

      Atlanta you stupid Yankees!

      1. I noticed it, but decided not to correct the cut’n’paste. It’s verbatim, and it’s still disgusting.

      2. And DC isn’t a state. Yet.

  3. If you lay off newer teachers with smaller salaries, you have to lay off more of them to reach your budget goals:

    Ok, fine, we’ll take more funding so we can pay our new teachers more so that we don’t have to fire as many to cut the same amount from our budget. Are you happy now?


    And useless gov suckups like Tony claim that this kind of thing can’t happen when the market is controlled by the benevolent and comforting hand of the not for profit decision making government.

    1. They ALWAYS do shit like that.

      1. That’s because we believe in the truth!

  5. I don’t know what to think of this value-added rating. What does Gatto think?

    1. Not sure, what does your cat think?

  6. [insert exclamation of surprise]

  7. Wait. The NEA’s priorities aren’t the same as teh chirruns? I am shocked!

    1. Not according to Al Shanker.

      “When school children start paying union dues, that ‘s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

      Refreshing honesty from an educator.

      1. Although ….technically…he wasn’t NEA.

      2. I’d love to hear that shit at a suburban PTA meeting. He’d probably be torn limb from limb.

        1. This is relevant to my interests.

  8. Add in the evidence that teacher quality is the single largest in-school contributor to student achievement, and the lack of evidence for similar results from reduced class size, and you are left to conclude that students would fare better if we laid off the non-performers even in the absence of budgetary excuses.

  9. I agree to a point. I am a 22 year old veteran teacher. My new principal is now assigning me to teach 3rd-5th ESOL students because my 2nd grade self contained ESOL students made significant gains and are predicted, “according to data”, to succeed in the 3rd grade state assessment test. The former 3rd-5th ESOL newer teacher, with a PHD did not have any gains at all. Another veteran teacher is being moved to a 4th grade class because the new younger teacher, (4yrs.), did not do that well w/ her students. So, not all veteran teacher are bad, burnt-out, but rather dedicated and always open to the everchanging population of students

  10. People are facing different challenges in their daily lives. They need to come up with good results to prove themselves or somebody else that they are worthy of doing so. Basically, these tasks are evaluated according to their degree of effectiveness and efficiency. Whether you are in a business owner, an employee, or an ordinary person at home, it is highly essential to management effectiveness well.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.