Teachers Dismissal and Tenure Process


This article is cited from the article published by Nathan Bond and Raymond Dagenais in Phi Delta Kappan journal. Phi Delta Kappa is a scholarly community, which provides educators and other interested stakeholders with ways to advocate for better education standards. Nathan Bond and Raymond Dagenais are Teacher Education Professors and members of the KDP Policy Committee. They are also Co-Chairs of the Research and Publications Subcommittee.

Teachers Dismissal and Tenure Process

Studies show that the rate of teacher turnover has increased in many states, which resulted in the interruption of the learning process. Although instructional continuity is jeopardized in most educational institutions, schools that retain their teachers for a longer time consistently record good performance. Moreover, schools demonstrate better results if they fire ineffective teachers and keep useful ones. As students deserve to be taught only by qualified personnel, teachers’ proficiency is first identified during the interviews. However, school principals have to take on a challenging role of ensuring that they have hired the best teachers (Bond & Dagenais, 2012).

School administrators always strive to employ experienced, caring, and competent teachers, as these aspects enhance student performance. However, employers utilize different interview styles when hiring teachers. For instance, sometimes they rely on how their organizations interviewed them, or they could be using standard versions thereof. However, it is worth to note that the success of behavior-based interviews depends on the creation of specific questions that address past behaviors and experiences (Sartain, Stoelinga, & Brown, 2009).

The Popularity of Harassing Supervision

Principals may apply quite aggressive methods arguing that they are trying to improve teaching ability. Some of them perform primary observation or employ professional development mentors, as most of the school leaders consider this method the best way to eliminate teachers from the system. Moreover, studies reveal that cases of harassing supervision are on the rise. For instance, thirty-nine principals from different parts of Chicago were interviewed in a pilot study. The research demonstrated that seventy-five percent of the participants mentioned practices which were deemed to be harassing. Interpreting these results, Sartain et al. (2009) suggested that principals should be taught more humane ways of evaluating and dismissing their teachers. Notably, the situation is similar in CA, NJ, NY, Texas and other states (Sartain et al., 2009).

Nowadays, principals prefer harassing supervision to other alternative methods of dismissal, as they do not rely on the formal district termination procedure. This development is a result of the complex interaction of different factors, including evaluation systems which fail to identify teachers who are not performing well. Furthermore, since principals may not understand the formal dismissal procedure, programs for world-class training fall short of building their expertise. Thus, it is clear that such individuals are not sufficiently involved in professional development. As a result, the pressure created thereby makes teachers leave the institutions they work in voluntarily (Bond & Dagenais, 2012).

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Legal Measures Placed in Teacher Evaluation

Rules and regulations by the federal government have even increased this pressure. One such rule is that principals must report teachers’ performance to their institutions to qualify for federal funds. Nevertheless, most of the local decision-makers dismiss teachers basing their argument on student test scores. They only deny dismissals when investigations show that the performance is inadequate because of the use of non-standardized student evaluation methods (Bond & Dagenais, 2012).

It is also worth mentioning that collective bargaining is permitted in some states. In such cases, teacher evaluation becomes a negotiable issue, under which evaluators are supposed to consider employment conditions and managerial strategies while judiciary may offer substantial remediation period. Instead of the teacher dismissal, the court sets a probation period and a rehabilitation plan. However, enforcement of these statutory requirements is quite rare, and in most cases, principals make their own independent decisions (Bond & Dagenais, 2012).


Evidence suggests that the current evaluation system is not efficient enough because teachers are often denied necessary information to facilitate effective improvement. Furthermore, the system has placed emphasis on original observations by school heads who are not trained to make accurate and objective evaluations. Thus, as most evaluations are subjective, there is a need to reform the educational system and particularly introduce change in the teacher’s tenure process.



Bond, N., & Dagenais, R. (2012). KDP reasoned voice. Indianapolis, IN: Phi Delta Kappan International Honor Society in Education.

Sartain, L., Stoelinga, S. R., & Brown, E. (2009). Evaluation of the excellence in teaching pilot: Year 1 report to the Joyce Foundation. Chicago, IL: Consortium on Chicago School Research.