Teacher tenure laws have been in existence for almost a century. However, in that time, teacher tenure has been under fire by individuals who consider it outdated and irrelevant. Additionally, teacher tenure laws have come under fire in recent decades due to a shift in education policy as a result of initiatives such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. This article offers a closer look at the evolution of teacher tenure laws over the past century in order to understand and evaluate the wave of recent state legislation changes regarding teacher tenure laws. These changes, largely shaped by federal education policies, attempt to accomplish one of several goals: 1) allow districts to terminate a teacher’s employment based on the evaluations, 2) make it more difficult for teachers to attain tenure, and 3) eliminate seniority as a factor in determining which teachers should be terminated during times when the district must downsize its staff. This article evaluates how well current legislation addresses these concerns. This discussion culminates in a proposal to implement new legislation focused on extending teachers’ probationary periods before providing the benefits of tenure, incorporating more peer evaluations into measures of efficiency and effectiveness, and eliminating seniority as a consideration in reduction-in-force statutes.

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